Target on Wednesday said it was removing some Pride-themed merchandise from store displays and shelves after the company and its employees became the focus of a “volatile” anti-LGBTQ campaign.
Right-wing media and far-right social media accounts falsely claimed
Target was selling “tuck-friendly” swimwear for kids, going so far as to call the company’s CEO a “pervert groomer.”
The conservative frenzy has led to in-store confrontation with employees
. People have knocked down Pride merchandise displays and put threatening posts on social media with video from inside stores.
The item in question only comes in adult sizes as part of its Pride Month collection. The swimwear is intended for transgender women, who have not had gender-affirming operations.
Target confirmed that it has moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and threats.
The move comes just one week before Pride Month kicks off on June 1.
“Pride Month at Target is a time of affirmation and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community,” the company says on its website.
Target said that despite the removal of Pride-positive merchandise, “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.”
Anti-LGBTQ sentiment has grown ahead of Pride Month. In April conservatives called for a boycott of Anheuser-Busch InBev after partnering with a transgender influencer.
"Anti-LGBTQ violence and hate should not be winning in America, but it will continue to until corporate leaders step up as heroes for their LGBTQ employees and consumers and do not cave to fringe activists calling for censorship," GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said
. "The fact that a small group of extremists are threatening disgusting and harsh violence in response to Target continuing its long-standing tradition of offering products for everyone should be a wake-up call for consumers and is a reminder that LGBTQ people, venues, and events are being attacked with threats and violence like never before. An avalanche of research shows that Americans are comfortable seeing LGBTQ people in ads and marketing and that consumers, especially younger ones, prefer companies that include LGBTQ people internally and externally."