Target Pulls Some LGBTQ+ Products Following Customer Backlash
Target is pulling some items from its Pride Collection off shelves following customer backlash, the company said Wednesday. Its LGBTQ+ products, launched at the beginning of May in acknowledgement of Pride Month in June, included more than 2,000 products, according to CNN. The items include clothing, accessories, mugs, shoes, books, pet accessories, and calendars. Target didn't say which products it was removing from shelves. Its LGBTQ+ products are usually available year-round.
In a statement, Target said that since introducing this year's Pride Collection, its stores have experienced threats "impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being while at work."
"Given these volatile circumstances, we're making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year," the statement read.
Total Retail's Take: Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is nothing new. Beyond Pride events being disrupted due to threats of violence, in the past two years conservative state lawmakers have introduced a wave of legislation targeting people who identify as LGBTQ+, which experts say has exacerbated the threats to the community.
As brands and retailers make more of an effort to be inclusive, they have to balance risking backlash from conservatives with not "rainbow-washing," or being inclusive only during Pride Month rather than infusing inclusivity into company values, marketing and communications year-round.
Target is not the only company this year to face controversy for its use of LGBTQ in marketing; Bud Light was criticized by many conservatives after it used a trans influencer in its marketing earlier this year.