Aim to remove some Pride merchandise after anti-LGBTQ threats against staff

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A Target department store on May 17, 2023 in North Miami Beach, Florida.

New York

Target said Wednesday it was removing some products celebrating Pride month after the company and its employees became the focus of a “volatile” anti-LGBTQ campaign.

The company said threats against employees affected their sense of safety and well-being, but Target did not specify which products were removed, the nature of the threats or where they took place. Target said it removed from its shelves “items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

For a decade, Target has celebrated Pride month in and around June. The company runs ads to appeal to LGBTQ customers and employees, and it sells t-shirts, coffee mugs and merchandise featuring rainbow flags and other symbols of gay rights.

“Pride Month at Target is a time of affirmation and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community,” the company says on its website.

“Our focus now is on moving forward with our continued commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year,” Target said in a statement Wednesday.

The company told the Wall Street Journal that people have confronted workers in stores, knocked down Pride merchandise displays and posted threatening videos on social media from stores. Some people have thrown Pride items on the floor, Target spokeswoman Kayla Castaneda told Reuters.

Prominent right-wing activists, Republican political leaders and conservative media outlets have drawn attention to a women’s swimsuit that was described as “tuck friendly” for its ability to conceal male genitalia. Misinformation spread on social media that it was marketed towards children, which it was not.

Target is reviewing certain transgender swimwear and children’s items, Castaneda told Reuters, but no decision on those products has yet been made.

Opponents also highlighted Target’s products created by trans designer Erik Carnell, who often uses satanic symbols in his designs. For Target, the British designer created a bag, purse and sweatshirt for adults with messages such as “We Belong Everywhere”, “Too Queer for Here” and “Cure Transphobia”.

Target offers more than 2,000 products, including clothing, books, music and furniture as part of the Pride Collection, Reuters reports. Items include “gender fluid” mugs, “queer all year” calendars and books for children ages 2-8 titled “Bye Bye, Binary,” “Pride 1,2,3” and “I’m not a girl. ”

Screenshots and social media posts show that Target previously sold a $25 slogan sweater with the words “cure transphobia not trans people” and an $18 “too queer for here” tote bag.

The company is removing items made by LGBTQ brand Abprallen, which has come under scrutiny for its association with Eric Carnell, according to Reuters. The products Target is recalling are being removed from all of its U.S. stores and from its website, Castaneda told Reuters. A search for Abprallen merchandise on on Tuesday returned “0” results.

Target’s action comes on the heels of a conservative backlash against Bud Light, after brewer Anheuser-Busch promoted the beer on social media last month with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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