Target will only sell Pride range online and in ‘select stores’ after anti-LGBTQ+ backlash

Pride collection in Target store

Target has said it will only sell Pride products in “select stores” following anti-LGBTQ+ backlash to last year’s initiative, which the retailer claimed hit its profits.

The US retail giant has confirmed it will sell Pride-themed adult apparel, home goods and beverages online and “in select stores, based on historical sales performance”. 

Target’s company statement adds that it will also join Pride events in “our hometown of Minneapolis and around the country” over the summer.

Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target, was forced to defend the company’s removal of some Pride products from its stores in May last year, after its staff were subjected to “very aggressive behaviour” by anti-LGBTQ+ customers.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 01: (L-R) Marlene (did not want to provide last name) and Jill Dahne protest outside of a Target store on June 01, 2023 in Miami, Florida. The protesters were reacting to Pride Month merchandise featuring the rainbow flag in support of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities that had been sold at Target stores. Target removed certain items from its stores and made other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise after a backlash from some customers. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Protestors outside a Target store in Miami, Florida in June 2023. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

The backlash followed Target releasing an LGBTQ+ themed collection ahead of Pride month, which featured “tuck-friendly” swimming costumes, rainbow-themed accessories and slogan T-shirts created in collaboration with queer artists.

Despite its harmless nature, the collection faced huge backlash from right-wing campaigners and saw the Target forced to remove or hide some displays at the back of their stores for the “safety and wellbeing” of staff and customers. 

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Queer artists who collaborated with Target for its Pride collection hit back at the retailer’s response to anti-LGBTQ+ backlash, with one artist named Erik C claiming Target hadn’t “tried to contact me once” after the backlash began. 

Image of one of Target's items for LGBTQ+ Pride month
Target Pride merchandise in 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Following the Pride collection controversy, reports revealed in August last year that Target’s sales fell 5.4 per cent over precending last three months, a higher decline than expected. 

Target claimed that its fall in profits was partly to do with the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash to its Pride products. 

Inclusivity in 2023 saw a number of brands face boycotts from furious right-wing anti-woke brigades. 

Alongside Target, brands that also faced backlash in 2023 for daring to be inclusive included Bud Light, which recently said it would “stay in our lane” following outrage over its collaboration with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, and shaving company Harry’s, for partnering with trans influencer Luke Wesley Pearson.