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Target faces backlash after promoting, then removing Pride-themed merchandise

Target faces backlash after promoting, then removing Pride-themed line of merchandise
Target faces backlash after promoting, then removing Pride-themed line of merchandise 03:32

CONCORD -- Target stores have come under fire lately for a line of Pride-themed merchandise that has put the company in a crossfire in the culture war over LGBTQ+ rights.

Target has been out front in its support of the LGBTQ+ community, displaying Pride-oriented clothing and products at the entrance to most of their stores. Of course, not everyone is happy about that.

"OK, no way.  No more shopping at Target for me," says one man in a Tik Tok video as he surveys the merchandise. Angry shoppers in conservative areas have lit up social media, pointing to one of the designers who has featured satanic images in other clothing lines, and a bathing suit designed for transgender individuals.  

After opponents began damaging displays and threatening employees, the company issued a statement that read in part: "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."

Now, Target is being criticized by both sides. A tweet from Governor Gavin Newsom accuses the company's CEO of "selling out" the LGBTQ+ community.  

Some angry progressives are calling for a boycott of the stores for removing the merchandise.  

"It's essentially letting the bigoted people out there win," said Kelly Ferguson, Development Director for the Rainbow Center in Concord. She said when the company stepped up to support Pride, it can't just step back when the going gets tough.

"It just really sends a strong signal that those needs are not being prioritized and that, when it's inconvenient for the company, they're going to withdraw--quietly--in certain areas or certain products. That's very, very disappointing to see," said Ferguson.

But Target shopper James Gomez said he's sitting this fight out.

"I don't think it should be an issue, in my opinion," he said. "People sell a lot of stuff that I don't like in there. Am I going to get mad about that?"

Gomez said he wasn't afraid that his young sons would be harmed by the Pride merchandise and thinks the whole argument is just part of the larger political war going on across the country.

"At the end of the day, I think that's what it is," he said. "Everyone's bored. They need to get a hobby or something. Because it seems very...if you don't like it, don't support it, don't buy it. It's that simple."

But nothing is simple these days. The Target controversy comes at a time when a record number of bills have gone before various state legislatures, targeting the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.  

While the company has supported Pride for ten years now, it looks like that's a good deed that is not going unpunished.

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