In May 2023, Target became the focus of a controversy over their Pride Display. Some products presented on a few shelves were setup in preparation for Pride Month which is observed in June to support the LGBTQIA+ community.
Those opposed to the queer-themed products described them as a satanic effort to push transgender clothing on children including infants. Critics of the Pride Display are calling for a boycott of Target and going so far as to say “Target Needs to Pay” leaving some ambiguity as to how Target should be punished.
Concerned about the safety of their employees and customers, Target plans to reduce the Pride collection and move it further back in the stores.
Below are photos of the products that have caused such a disturbance. These photos are from a display at the front of an undisclosed Target store where the display is prominently located at the entrance. It seems to have not been modified in response to recent pressure from critics. The photos are from 28 May 2023.
Just like socially awkward people, large corporations are socially awkward with regard to cultural expression and political statements.
Companies want to get a sense of public opinion before making a statement or taking a stand.
Corporate policies are generally intended to boost sales by creating a brand that attracts the majority of people and wins the most public support. Even of a corporate policy doesn’t impact sales and profits, one wants to do the least harm to society and not create tension.
With controversial issues, a company will inevitably offend some people, and only win the support of a few in the group they intended to support.
With regard to LGBTQIA+ support, there will be people in that group who are offended by corporate virtue signaling. A weak show of support can backfire. Some in the LGBTQIA+ community would complain that the representation was poorly implemented.
Meanwhile, those opposed to the LGBTQIA+ community will still be offended no matter how small the rainbow signage is. Even if the tiny ambiguous show of support is moved to the back of the store, opponents will still complain and launch a boycott. They want nothing gay anywhere in public or private business spaces.
Target’s effort to express support of the LGBTQIA+ community is sort of awkward and vague. The sentiment is well intended — to show kindness and inclusiveness to everyone in society. However, as you’ll see below, it’s not quite strong enough to convey confident support.
Once the story trended in the news, each side of the controversy began to fight for their views to be represented. One imagines the displays getting bigger and then smaller, moving forward and then farther back, depending on the current public opinion.
Sophisticated AI algorithms were probably used to determine exactly how big or small the display should be to optimize sales.
There’s no way to win in that social debate. The only way to show strong support for the LGBTQIA+ community would be to:
- Ask employees to spend the month of June working in costumes similar to those worn in the gay pride parade in New York City
- Change the corporate color from “Target Red” to gay pride rainbows.
- Have checkout lanes feature the top dozen most popular LGBTQIA+ magazines.
- Have the store piped-in corporate music feature Boy George, the Pet Shop Boys, Rick Astley, Cher, the Village People, and similar artists
Even if the above were done, some people in the LGBTQIA+ community would be offended by something. The same would be true trying do please any special interest group. Inevitably some don’t support the initiative.
As you’ll see from the sampling below, the products in the Pride Display were not very clear in their message.
Below is a photo of the entire Pride Display with the collection of related items. A large picture of smiling friends is prominently shown. Those opposing the display would suggest that the friends may be gay, although there’s nothing in the image to suggest this.
The Pride display features presumably gay people in the display signage as seen in the photos below. These images apparently are upsetting to some people.
To the untrained eye, the above photos seem to depict traditional male/female couples. If you examine the photos more closely, it’s obvious that these people are happier and better looking than typical straight couples.
Making Your Pet Gay?
In addition to apparel for people, there is a collection of pet accessories as shown below. Opponents to the Pride display claim the clothing for young people is an attempt to make them gay. Presumably the pet accessories are an effort to make pets gay.
If you zoom in on the small white t-shirt, it’s possible to see the label “pet apparel” on the item as shown below. It may look like a shirt for an infant, but it is intended to be a pet t-shirt.
Below is a t-shirt showing an example of what some people feel is a controversial message.
If you turn the shirt upside down and squint your eyes, the letter “U” in the word “You” appears to be a rainbow which some people believe is gay.
The shirt below from the display is an example of what opponents claim to be a gay shirt.
While it doesn’t look gay from a distance, a closer look reveals a multi-colored logo.
That’s not quite close enough. Below is a more zoomed in look a the shirt where the multi-colored logo can be seen. The logo is not a rainbow, but does have a variety of colors which some feel conveys a gay message.
The Target Pride Display controversy seems to be unfounded sensationalism and propaganda intended to stir up fear of those in the LGBTQIA+ community.
The broader implied storyline (narrative) is that corporations, leftists, and west coast elites are trying to force the ‘gay agenda’ on society and youth specifically. The Target controversy feeds into this belief.
The Target controversy is designed to gain only enough traction for headlines in one news cycle, but won’t endure long enough for any in-depth review or criticism.
There is probably a queue of stories that are planned for “timed release” into successive news cycles so as to convince some people of the ‘gay agenda’ conspiracy.
The news below provides more insights into this issue.
CBS (1 Jun 2023)
“Major companies face backlash and boycotts after taking political stands” — Companies like Disney and Bud Light are facing major backlash after taking stands on social and political debates. “CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil speaks with a marketing executive about why more companies are wading into controversial issues and how consumers feel about it. [Source]
MSNBC (28 May 2023)
“‘When LGBTQ people are under attack, everybody loses’: Far-right wages war on Pride merch” — Target has faced backlash in recent days for pulling some of it’s Pride merchandise from stores after instances of customers harassing employees and tipping over displays. The outrage over Pride merchandise has been echoed by some Republican lawmakers, even though Target has been carrying Pride merchandise for at least a decade. MSNBC’s Alicia Menendez is joined by Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida Press Secretary, to discuss the ongoing threats to the LGBTQ+ community. [Source]
CBS News (26 May 2023)
“Target pulls some LGBTQ+ Pride merchandise after backlash” — Target is the latest company making changes following backlash over its LGBTQ+ support. The company says it is pulling some other products from its stores nationwide ahead of Pride Month in June following threats directed at its employees. New York Times business reporter Jordyn Holman joins CBS News to discuss. [Source]
NBC News (24 May 2023)
“Target pulls some Pride Month merchandise off shelves after threats to employees” — Target is pulling some products that celebrate Pride Month off of store shelves, citing threats to employees. NBC News’ Miguel Almaguer has more details on the backlash. [Source]