Brands Embracing Pride Month Confront a Volatile Political Climate
Among the items angering some customers was a one-piece, tuck-friendly swimsuit — a bathing suit that has extra material for the crotch area for individuals who want to conceal their genitalia. Some critics erroneously claimed that the swimsuit was being sold to children; Target said it was available only in adult sizes. The collection also includes children’s books about transgender issues and gender fluidity.
One woman recorded a TikTok video in a Target store on Monday in which she became angry at seeing a greeting card that read “So Glad You Came Out” and a yellow onesie that said “¡Bien Proud!”
“If that doesn’t give you a reason to boycott Target, I don’t know what does,” she said.
In a statement, a company spokeswoman said, “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.” She added that the company, which has been selling Pride Month merchandise for a decade, remained committed to the L.G.B.T.Q. community “and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year.”
While Target said its decision had been made in the interest of employee safety, many said its actions — along with a conservative backlash against Bud Light after it worked with a transgender influencer — might alienate the community it was seeking to support. And those who criticized Target and Bud Light in the first place may now feel further emboldened to attack inclusive initiatives by other companies.
“We’re in a new space here with safety and employee safety being threatened by policy and purpose,” said Vanitha Swaminathan, professor of marketing at the University of Pittsburgh. “I can’t say that you can disregard employee safety. That’s very core to what a company has to do. At the same time, Target can still, from a policy standpoint, be supportive of their initial stance. It’s sad to see that we’ve reached this point in our culture wars.”