RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Following Target’s announcement last week that it has removed products and moved Pride displays to the back of select stores in the South, LGBTQ+ community activists are calling for more new campaigns to convince business leaders not to give in to anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
“We need a strategy on how to deal with companies that are under tremendous pressure to throw LGBTQ people under the bus,” said California State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, member of the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus.
“We need to send a clear message to American businesses that if you are our ally – if you really are our ally – you need to be our ally, not only when it’s easy but also when it’s hard,” he said. he declares.
While the retailer said its actions were aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of its employees after protesters toppled Pride signs and confronted workers in stores, the controversy comes at a time when the dispute over the LGBTQ+ rights are brewing.
Nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this year. At least 18 states have enacted laws restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
The hostile environment has prompted some groups to hire security consultants to advise them on planned activities for Pride Month, which begins Thursday.
“We are forced to think differently about how we handle security at our events and whether or not we can publish the names and emails of our staff on our website,” said Janson Wu, executive director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, a non-profit legal advocacy organization. based in Boston.
Debra Porta, executive director of Pride Northwest, in Portland, Ore., said there had been talks of a possible boycott, letter-writing campaign and other actions directed at Target, but plans for a protest organized have not yet materialized.
“Because the news is relatively new, more actions could be announced, especially as Pride Month is coming up,” Porta said.
Target isn’t the only company grappling with public criticism.
Bud Light is still dealing with the fallout from its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who in April posted a photo on Instagram of a beer can with his face on it. In response to the hateful and transphobic backlash that followed, the company said it “never intended to be part of a divisive discussion,” but did not directly address the rhetoric or signaled clear support for Mulvaney. Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch is tripling its U.S. marketing spending this summer as it tries to restore lost sales.
In early May, several Chicago gay bars stopped selling Anheuser-Busch products in protest at the company’s response.
Chicago’s 2Bears Tavern said the company’s response “shows how little Anheuser-Busch cares about the LGBTQIA+ community, and especially transgender people, who have come under relentless attack in this country.”
“Since Anheuser-Busch does not support us, we will not support it,” the company said.
Sidetrack, the largest gay bar in the Midwest, did the same, saying that Anheuser-Busch “misvalidates the position that it’s okay to acquiesce to demands of those who don’t support the trans community and want to erase the trans community.” LGBTQ+ visibility”.
In Florida, Disney has been embroiled in a legal battle with Governor Ron DeSantis since the company expressed opposition to state-imposed limits on discussing gender identity and sexual orientation.
And the Los Angeles Dodgers announced last week that an LGBTQ+ satirical group called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence would once again be welcome at the team’s annual Pride Night – nearly a week after the team rescinded its initial invitation, citing backlash from conservative Roman Catholics and politicians who accused the group of mocking the Christian faith.
“Now is not the time to back down,” said Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG, an organization founded in 1973 to advocate for LGBTQ+ people and their families.
“I think that companies and we as citizens have to examine new strategies within ourselves. Old models don’t necessarily work,” he said.
Some people remain concerned about the impact of Target’s Pride exhibits on children, said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, a conservative faith-based organization in Richmond.
“Target is paying the price for telling kids to be unhappy with their bodies, putting ideology ahead of investor interests, and creating a hostile store environment for parents with kids,” Cobb said in a statement.
At a Richmond Target store on Sunday, Pride merchandise was prominently displayed in the front of the store.
Brenda Alston, a 75-year-old retiree, said she bought a pair of rainbow sandals to show her support for the LGBTQ+ community and Target.
“If you come into the store and that’s not what you’re supporting, just keep walking and get what you need in another part of the store,” Alston said. “Who are you to tell me what to buy and what Target should offer its customers?”
Still, some see hostility toward Target and other retailers as the latest stumbling block in a decades-long struggle for equality.
“To me, that’s a sign that we’re winning,” said Derek Mize, a gay attorney who lives in a suburb of Atlanta with his husband and two children.
“I think these people complaining about our visibility are the last gasps of a dying prejudice,” he said. “Society is changing and most people aren’t worried about Target selling an LGBTQ shirt.”
Selsky reported from Salem, Oregon.