This Viral Video Shows How Target’s Pride Merchandise Became a Culture War Flashpoint

The company is pulling some LGBTQ clothing following threats to employees.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A video that went viral on Twitter Wednesday showed how Target's employees have been on the front lines of the backlash over the retailer's LGBTQ-friendly merchandise.

The video, which was originally posted in February, shows a man holding a children's t-shirt that says "Pride" in rainbow letters and berating employees about the store stocking "Satanic pride propaganda."

He accused Target of being involved in the "sexualization of kids through pride propaganda."

“Kids can choose to wear whatever they want,” the worker replies at one point in the footage.

The employee's non-plussed reaction to the man behind the camera caught the attention of Twitter users Wednesday. A tweet of the video that commented, "the world needs her now more than ever," was liked more than 51,000 times—and viewed more than 3.5 million times.

On Tuesday, Target announced that it would be pulling some Pride Month merchandise from stores following threats to employees.

”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," the Minneapolis-based company said.

Target worker Adam Ryan, 35, an organizer for "Target Workers Unite," a group run by rank-and-file Target employees, said customers have been abusing employees over merchandise that is viewed as "woke" for years.

“This is nothing new. We have plenty of workers who have experienced aggressive or violent behavior directed at them," Ryan told The Messenger.

Transgender and other LGBTQ employees have been particular targets of ire, he said.

"They notify management and management won't do anything because at the end of the day, they don't want to upset the customer base," Ryan said.

“The social climate is very intense right now and there's a lot of animosity floating around, and this is sort of reflective of that."

Ryan, who took part in the failed effort last year to unionize workers at his store in Christiansburg, Va., is skeptical about the company's decision to pull some Pride Month merchandise.

“Target doesn’t want to upset the customer because they don't want to hurt sales and that's Target's primary focus," he said. "Everything else is just window dressing."

Target didn't say Wednesday exactly which items it would remove from stores, but it has received backlash from customers about "tuck friendly" swimsuits that are designed to allow trans women who have not had gender affirming surgeries conceal their private parts.

The swimsuits are only offered in adult sizes, according to a spokesperson for the company, and Target’s website.

But, some said the swimsuits and other items in Target's Pride Collection are designed for children.

The outbursts come amid protests against major brands—notably, Bud Light after the beer maker included a video of transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney endorsing the product.

—With the Associated Press

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