Gavin Newsom, California's governor, has leveled severe criticism at Target CEO Brian Cornell, accusing him of betraying the LGBTQ+ community. This critique comes in the wake of Target's decision to remove select LGBTQ+ themed merchandise from its shelves, a move that followed significant customer disapproval.
Target is facing backlash for its intense promotion of items, including transgender swimsuits, as part of Pride month's celebrations.
This scenario mirrors the Bud Light fiasco, where the brand's partnership with Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, triggered consumer disapproval. In response, Target initially relocated Pride month displays to less conspicuous areas within certain stores and then proceeded to withdraw some of the contentious merchandise altogether.
In a tweet, Newsom made his disapproval clear, stating, "CEO of Target Brian Cornell selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists is a real profile in courage."
He further emphasized that this was not a localized event but indicative of a systematic assault on the LGBTQ+ community nationwide. In a stark warning, he added, "Wake up America. This doesn't stop here. You’re black? You’re Asian? You’re Jewish? You’re a woman? You’re next."
Target, whose Pride Collection encompasses over 2,000 products, confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday that it was withdrawing some LGBTQ-themed merchandise. Reportedly, among the items no longer available are a sweater with the slogan "cure transphobia not trans people" and a tote bag stating "too queer for here."
Target justified the move by citing security concerns for its staff, stating, "Since introducing this year's collection, we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being while at work." To mitigate these volatile conditions, the company has decided to remove items at the heart of the controversy.
For now, only merchandise from Abprallen, a London-based LGBTQ artist known for combining gender-related messages and macabre imagery, has been removed. Target has previously faced criticism for marketing products like "tuck-friendly" swimsuits, "gender fluid" mugs, "queer all year" calendars, and books for young children that espouse LGBTQ perspectives. According to a company spokesperson, the swimsuits were exclusively marketed and sold to adults.