What Influencers Are Saying on Social Media About Target’s Decision to Pull Pride Month Merch

Designers and influencers are criticizing the retail giant after they announced some items will be moved to the back of stores or removed entirely


Target announced Tuesday that they were pulling some Pride-themed merchandise from their shelves following threats to employees that made them feel unsafe.

The retailer's 2023 Pride month collection, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, has been in stores since early May and includes items such as t-shirts featuring different drag queens, shirts with phrases like "Say Gay" and "Trans People Will Always Exist!" and children's onesies that read "Bien Proud."

The Target company logo hangs outside of a Target store on November 16, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Since the release of the collection, anti-LGBTQ+ protestors have posted videos to social media showing themselves pulling down cardboard displays promoting the collection in stores and threatening employees.

"Since introducing this year's collection, we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and wellbeing while at work," Target said in a statement Tuesday. "Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans."

Since Tuesday, the retailer has received tremendous backlash for deciding to remove the merchandise. GLAAD released a statement both criticizing Target for "abandoning its values on LGBTQ inclusion this Pride month" and praising other companies, including The North Face, for continuing to promote Pride month-related content in the wake of protests.

"Including LGBTQ people and holding true to your corporate values is good for business. The North Face is following hundreds of other businesses that include and stand with LGBTQ people and our allies," GLAAD said Friday in a statement shared with The Messenger.

It added, "At a time when over 20% of Gen Z is LGBTQ and a supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ people, The North Face's decision should be a signal to other companies that including LGBTQ people and allies is better for business than siding with a small number of violent extremists who want to keep LGBTQ consumers and employees invisible."

Influencers have also spoken out against Target's decision to remove some of the merchandise from shelves. Matt Bernstein, a makeup artist and influencer known for political commentary on LGBTQ+-related issues, criticized the store on Instagram Thursday.

"Why must we all cater to the whims of a few hateful bigots whose children won't speak to them in five years?" Bernstein wrote.

Other influencers, such as comedian and makeup artist Cyrus Veyssi, spoke out in disbelief against the protests.

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Designers who had their items removed from the collection spoke out against the retailer as well. Ash + Chess — who designed the "Trans People Will Always Exist!" items — released a statement via Instagram Friday expressing disappointment that their items were being pulled.

"We are saddened to say that the majority of our collection has been removed from Target stores due to threats from domestic terrorists," the designers wrote. "We appreciate your support and love. Queer and trans people exist in the past, present, and future, and we are stronger together."

Another designer, the Texas-based JZD, also shared via Instagram on Thursday that some of their items would become online-only and one style had been removed entirely.

"The hate surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community is and always has been devastating. We've never shied away from our identities as we exist to celebrate all sides of who we are and the communities we belong to," the designer wrote, in part. "Remember, hate will never win. We love you."

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