Target on Wednesday said it was removing some products that celebrate Pride Month after the company and its employes became the focus of a “volatile” anti-LGBTQ campaign.
The company said threats against employees impacted their sense of safety and well-being, but Target did not specify which products it was removing, the nature of the threats, or where they occurred. Target said it removed from 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 advertisements to appeal to LGBTQ customers and employees, and it sells t-shirts, coffee mugs and merchandise with 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 continuing 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 put threatening posts on social media with video from inside stores. Some people have thrown Pride items on the floor, Target spokesperson Kayla Castaneda told Reuters.
Prominent right-wing activists, Republican political leaders and conservative media outlets have focused their attention on 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 to children, which it was not.
Target is reviewing certain transgender swimsuits and children’s merchandise, Castaneda told Reuters, but no decision on those products has yet been made.
Opponents also highlighted Target’s products made by trans designer Erik Carnell, who often uses Satanic symbols in his designs. For Target, the UK designer created a bag, tote 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 home furnishings as part of its Pride Collection, Reuters reports. The items include “gender fluid” mugs, “queer all year” calendars and books for children aged 2-8 titled “Bye Bye, Binary,” “Pride 1,2,3” and “I’m not a girl.”
Screenshots and posts on social media 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 withdrawing are being removed from all its US stores and from its website, Castaneda told Reuters. A search for Abprallen merchandise on Target.com on Tuesday showed “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.