A crowd of people raising various LGBTQ pride flags.

Target Is Caving to Hate Groups By Burying Its Pride Collection

After backlash against its LGBTQ+ clothing line, Target is removing “controversial” items and hiding its Pride displays in the backs of some stores.

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Earlier this month, Target caught the attention of anti-LGBTQ extremists when it unveiled tuck-friendly swimwear as part of its Pride Collection. The swimsuits, which accommodate the bodies of trans women who haven’t had gender-affirming surgery, have become the center of a campaign against Target led by right-wing celebrities and lawmakers like Marjorie Taylor Green, Ben Shapiro, and Matt Walsh. Many right-wingers are repeating a debunked claim that the tuck-friendly swimsuits are made for children.

Target claims that it’s pulling Pride Collection items because of threats to the safety of its employees. In a statement, the retailer said, “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work. Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.” There have been reports of anti-LGBTQ hate group members harassing employees and knocking down displays.

Obviously, working retail shouldn’t be a dangerous and traumatic job, and Target should protect its employees. However, caving to hate groups is the exact wrong way to go about it.

There’s no controversy here—only hate

Let’s say, for a minute, that Target was selling tuck-friendly swimsuits to children (which it’s not). So what? Children should be able to wear whatever swimsuit they want, and if that swimsuit accommodates their body, all the better.

As always, what bigots object to isn’t a swimsuit style or rainbow beach towel. What they object to is any public reminder that queer people exist. They use rhetoric like “groomer” or “pedophile” to make queer people sound scary, but all that rhetoric is made up. Their movement is fueled purely by hate.

This campaign is 100% manufactured

Last month, Matt Walsh tweeted a call to action for conservatives, telling them to target and boycott any business that was LGBTQ+ friendly.

Screenshot of an April 5, 2023 tweet by Matt Walsh, reading, "Here's what we should do: Pick a victim, gang up on it, and make an example of it. We can't boycott every woke company or even most of them. But we can pick one, it hardly matters which, and target it with a ruthless boycott campaign. Claim one scalp then move onto the next."

Although it’s unlikely that Walsh’s tweet alone spurred people to attack Target, his tweet captures the sentiment that’s driving the hate movement against the queer community. This isn’t about any harm that queer people are doing to conservatives; it’s about celebrities siccing their followers on a vulnerable community.

Plus, Walsh’s tweet demonstrates why Target’s decision to cave is the wrong approach. Once hate groups are done with Target, they’ll simply move on to the next retailer, and then the next. Their goal is the complete erasure of queer people by any means necessary, and by letting them win, Target gets them one step closer to that goal.

(featured image: Getty Images)


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Author
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>

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