The Target Employee Subreddit Is an Incredibly Disheartening Corner of the Internet Right Now
Mega-corporations do not care about their queer employees, nor their queer customers, and Target is the latest big business to make that painfully clear.
They simply care about their money. After Kid Rock decided to light up a few cases of Bud Light with an automatic rifle in protest against the brand’s sponsorship of Dylan Mulvaney, the company decided to pivot and do damage control rather than stand by their decision. Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said, “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people … we are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Sadly, Whitworth and numerous other CEOs plead ignorant to the fact that that anti-trans blacklash in this country is not part of a reasonable “discussion.” It is simply targeted hate, and yes, the issues does “divide” many Americans, yet by pretending not to “choose a side,” Anheuser-Busch has tacitly kowtowed to that hate.
Employees at Target are seeing their company do the same.
In response to widespread conservative backlash against Traget’s Pride merchandise line, the company has ordered much of the clothing to be removed from shelves. While the company claims that this decision was made due to threats of violence against Target employees, it’s likely that their sinking stock prices were the chief cause. Experts have warned that Target’s actions will only embolden violent extremists, who will see the brand’s decision as evidence that threats of violence work. Nevertheless, many storefronts have pivoted away from selling Pride merchandise, leaving many articles of clothing in the dumpsters.
The majority of Target employees have been heartbroken over the brand’s lack of support towards the LGBTQ community, and many threads on Target employee subreddits are an outpouring of grief. In a thread entitled “Pride Fiasco 2023,” both queer and straight Target employees have come together to lament the retailer’s decision to pull Pride merchandise and recount their experiences at their specific storefront.
One employee was told that their team would spend the day “pulling all pride from the salesfloor and putting it in the back” after having already been told to move the merch from the main displays and put it in “women’s performance.” The employee claims that they were “lied to” and were forced to “lie to their team that this was ever about swim sales in the first place.” It is likely that the employee is referencing the tuck-friendly swimsuit line made for adults that caused outrage after conservatives claimed the suits were being marketed to children. The employee ended their post admonishing the company for “claim[ing] allyship only to choose money just like everyone else.”
Other disheartened Target employees were quick to respond. “It blows my mind that people think most companies care at all,” said one user as a followup to the original post. “Pride month is just free publicity and money for them, they don’t actually care about it. It’s just to look good and people fall for it hook, line and sinker.”
Another user pointed out that even if corporate motivations for selling pride merchandise are ultimately self-interested, “it’s a huge f***ing deal to be able to walk into a store and see a celebration of yourself. To have it just be normalized is so, so important.”
Another user was quick to call bullshit against the brand’s claim that threats of violence against employees were the main reason why the company pulled the Pride merchandise. “If Target was, for a single fraction of a second, actually concerned for our safety, they’d step up security measures; bring in more security people, develop a system so openers and closers (or, honestly, everyone all day) are always walking in and out together, someone is watching them from inside the building walking to/from their cars, etc.”
It’s a fair point. If target were actually concerned with violence against queer employees, why not take measure to protect those employees rather than remove all traces of their identity from stores? “They’d rather appease the people that probably never shopped at target to f***ing begin with,” continued the post. “What about making violent bigots comfortable at Target is going to protect team members from the violent bigots?”
If Target had decided to take a concrete stance against bigotry, they would not have been the first company to do so. The North Face responded to anti-Pride backlash from their customers by hiring drag queen Pattie Gonia to be the face of their newest ad campaign. “The North Face has always believed the outdoors should be a welcoming, equitable and safe place for all,” said a company spokesperson. “We are honored and grateful to support partners like Pattie Gonia who help make this vision a reality. … Creating community and belonging in the outdoors is a core part of our values and is needed now more than ever. We stand with those who support our vision for a more inclusive outdoor industry.'”
While conservative politicians like Majorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert have called for a boycott against The North Face, the company has remained undaunted in its support for the queer community. Sadly, it seems that The North Face is the exception to a grim corporate rule. According to one Redditor on the thread, many of the human resources higher-ups at Target are heartbroken by the company’s lack of backbone.
The user said the the decision “physically Pained our HR Director. I sat on a call with her, and the rest of our group, yesterday and watched her cry as we all told her how embarrass and ashamed we were to be Target team members this week. I just want anyone that reads this to know that it wasn’t the HR team (from the tippy top, to the bottom) that really pushed for this — it was the financial team.” The user then named Target CEO Brian Cornell, vice-president Michael Fiddelke, and vice president and chief communications officer Katie Boylan as the true culprits behind the decision.
There is a silver lining to Target’s decision to pull Pride merchandise from storefronts, but it is a thin one. According to one user, the company is sourcing LGBTQ groups to accept donations of the pulled merchandise, meaning that the clothing will not go entirely to waste. It’s hardly a consolation, however, as I can’t imagine any self-respecting queer person would be caught dead wearing clothes from a company that refuses to support the community in its hour of greatest need.
(featured image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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