Target removes certain Pride merchandise, blames ‘volatile circumstances’

Target is removing some of its Pride merchandising amid backlash.

Target removes certain Pride merchandise, blames ‘volatile circumstances’

Target is the latest brand to minimize its LGBTQ+-related offerings following controversy. The retailer said it was “making adjustments” to its plans that included removing certain Pride Month-related items from its shelves amid what the chain called “volatile circumstances” that included threats against team members.

“We are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior,” Target wrote in a statement Wednesday. “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 Minneapolis-based company said it has offered products celebrating Pride Month for more than a decade. It was unclear if Target has ever made adjustments to its marketing of such products before.

News reports about Target’s shift were first published on Tuesday but the retailer did not post a statement about its Pride strategy until Wednesday morning. A representative did not respond to a request for further comment.

Target’s backtracking on Pride comes during a heightened anti-LGBTQ+ environment that is putting pressure on brands. Bud Light’s partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, in which so-called “anti-woke” consumers boycotted the brand, resulted in the leave of marketer Alissa Heinerscheid. Like Target, Bud Light also cited employee safety as a key factor in its decisions.

Yet some brands that initially pulled back on LGBTQ+ support are already reversing course. Earlier this week, the Dodgers re-invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to their Pride Night, after the team received backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and even some Dodgers employees after they took the nonprofit off the participation roster.

Some consumers criticized Target’s pullback on Twitter, with many wondering what's next. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday night posted about the move, saying “There is a systematic attack on the gay community happening across the country. Wake up America. This doesn’t stop here. You’re black? You’re Asian? You’re Jewish? You’re a woman? You’re next.”