Target has announced that it’s removing products from its Pride collection due to “threats impacting” its employees’ “sense of safety and wellbeing.”
But the far-right, who’ve been bombarding the company with harassment, misinformation, and “satanic panic”’ conspiracies since Target rolled out its 2023 collection earlier this month, are still not satisfied. After all, to them, this was just one small battle in their larger attack on Pride and LGBTQ rights. However, they are freshly emboldened, casting a grim shadow over Pride celebrations in the months to come.
“The goal is to make “pride” toxic for brands,” tweeted far-right commentator Matt Walsh. “If they decide to shove this garbage in our face, they should know that they’ll pay a price. It won’t be worth whatever they think they’ll gain. First Bud Light and now Target. Our campaign is making progress. Let’s keep it going.”
For over a year, the entire spectrum of the far-right, including hardcore neo-Nazis, white nationalists, Proud Boys, Libs of TikTok, and GOP lawmakers, have coalesced with terrifying unity around anti-LGBTQ hate, with a particular focus on trans issues and teaching kids about queerness, which they say is tantamount to “grooming.”
Target’s decision to back down in the face of such harassment is a U-turn from the CEO’s recent remarks defending Target’s pride collection, which he described as “the right thing for society and a great thing for our brand.”
Items that have since vanished from Target’s Pride collection include a colorful tote bag saying “We Belong Everywhere” and a baby-pink sweatshirt with the slogan “Cure Transphobia, Not Trans People,” both of which were designed by U.K. brand Abprallen.
“It’s pretty obvious that ‘cure transphobia’ is code for ‘destroy Christian values,’” remarked one far-right influencer on Telegram to their 60,000 followers.
The far-right group #GaysAgainstGroomers initiated the backlash to Target over its collaboration with Apballen, which often combines Satanic imagery with pastel colors and slogans like “Trans Witches for Abortion.” They seized on Abprallen’s product line as further “evidence” that the LGBTQ community harbors some secret satanic agenda, and the designer Erik Carnell says he’s since been receiving death threats.
They also took aim at rainbow apparel and Pride-themed books for children. “They are indoctrinating and grooming them with LGBTQ ideology,” #GaysAgainstGroomers wrote. ”It is highly inappropriate and disturbing.”
This sparked further calls for boycott from the far-right (many apparently forgetting that they’ve been boycotting Target once a year over an array of gripes, including their policies accommodating transgender customers, and no longer ringing the Salvation Army bell at Christmas). Last year, far-right troll Ethan Schmidt posted a video of himself destroying a Pride display in Target in Phoenix.
Target also appears to have removed a tuck-friendly swimsuit, designed to provide extra coverage for some transwomen. Professional troll Alex Stein posted a viral video of himself trying it on, and conspiracy theorists, aided by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, spread false information that the swimsuit came in children’s sizes.
While some vowed a boycott, others proposed vandalism or violence. “Knock down all the displays and stomp on them,” one person wrote in the comment section of the Gateway Pundit. “Use a loud bullhorn or maybe a paint/urine bomb.”
The Proud Boys Michigan chapter suggested people conceal bleach in Starbucks drinking cups or water pistols and spill it over Pride flags or clothing at their local Target stores. “Once the store realizes that it’s been vandalized, they’d have to step up security as well and pay for extra security around those items.”
The bullying campaign that the far-right has used with Target is part of the same strategy they’ve been using against Bud Light since the beer company partnered with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The far-right first announced it was boycotting the company, but rather than blow over, they remained laser focused on pressuring it into cutting ties with Mulvaney. Sales have continued to plummet.