California Governor Criticizes Target After Stores Remove Some Gay-Themed Clothing Amid Death Threats

In one video, an activist approaches a Target employee asking ‘Do you support this Satanic propaganda?’

AP/George Walker IV
Pride Month merchandise is displayed at a Target store at Nashville, May 24, 2023. AP/George Walker IV

On the eve of Gay Pride Month, Democrats are accusing Target of a “systemic attack” on the LGBTQ community as videos of conservatives confronting Target employees begin to surface.

The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, criticized Target for pulling some of its pride-themed merchandise, in the wake of a burgeoning conservative boycott of the store.

“CEO of Target Brian Cornell selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists is a real profile in courage,” Mr. Newsom said. “This isn’t just a couple stores in the South. There is a systematic attack on the gay community happening across the country.”

Now, videos of conservative activists confronting Target employees with their concerns are beginning to surface online, in a pattern reminiscent of the Bud Light boycott, which began with the brewery doing an online promotion with a transgender influencer, Dylan Mulvaney.

In one video, an activist approaches a Target employee asking, “Do you support this Satanic propaganda?” The employee responds, “What you need to do is you either need to leave the store …,” before the activist interrupts, saying, “God will judge you guys.”

As the activist is escorted out of the store, he asks similar questions of random shoppers before saying, “I’m going to buy it and burn it,” in reference to a pride-themed T-shirt.

Another video features a conservative activist cocking a firearm while making vague statements about the company and its pride displays.

“We’re gonna keep this one short and sweet,” the activist said. “You don’t go after people’s kids because you can’t get to the adults who can think for themselves.”

Some of the outrage is directed at claims circulating on social media that Target stores are selling “tuck-friendly” swimsuits to children as part of pride month.

In response to these rumors, a Target spokeswoman, Kayla Castaneda, told the Associated Press that they are sold only in adult sizes.

The AP report found that there were no “tuck-friendly” swimsuits marketed toward children and that pride-themed swimwear for minors had a tag reading, “Thoughtfully Fit on Multiple Body Types and Gender Expressions.”

Some activists still have objections to tuck-friendly garments being displayed in the general vicinity of where children might shop in some Targets.

In light of the in-person confrontations, the social media firestorm, and the boycott, Target has rearranged some stores and pulled some merchandise in the interest of the safety of its employees.

“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month,” Target said in a statement. “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work.”

The company explained its choice to rearrange stores and remove merchandise, adding, “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.”

Since social media users began calling for a boycott, Target has lost about 12 percent of its market capitalization, or $9 billion, as the company’s value dropped to $65.3 billion from $74.3 billion.

The new outrage over Target’s pride merchandise mirrors the recent boycott by conservatives of Bud Light, over their collaboration with Ms. Mulvaney.

Recent reporting from the Wall Street Journal indicates that Bud Light sales are down nearly 30 percent since this time last year. Some conservative activists are demanding an apology from Bud Light for doing a promotion with Ms. Mulvaney.

The New York Sun

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