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California Governor Gavin Newsom accused the CEO of Target of “selling out the LGBTQ+ community” after the retail giant pulled some gay- and trans-themed merchandise from its shelves amid a customer backlash.
The company had faced criticism after aggressively marketing items including transgender swimsuits in conjunction with Pride month. But in a replay of the backlash faced by Bud Light after the beer brand hatched a marketing deal with transgender-identifying influencer Dylan Mulvaney, customers reacted with disgust. That prompted the chain to first move Pride month displays to less prominent areas of some stores and then to pull some of the controversial merchandise altogether.
“CEO of Target Brian Cornell selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists is a real profile in courage,” Newsom tweeted. “This isn’t just a couple stores in the South. There is a systematic attack on the gay community happening across the country.”
“Wake up America,” Newsom added. “This doesn’t stop here. You’re black? You’re Asian? You’re Jewish? You’re a woman? You’re next.”
CEO of Target Brian Cornell selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists is a real profile in courage.
This isn’t just a couple stores in the South. There is a systematic attack on the gay community happening across the country.
Wake up America.
This doesn’t stop here.… https://t.co/1vRgukaT0g
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 24, 2023
Target, which offers over 2,000 products as part of its Pride Collection, told Reuters on Tuesday that it was yanking some LGBTQ merchandise. According to the outlet, merchandise no longer available includes a sweater that read “cure transphobia not trans people” and a “too queer for here” tote bag.
“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target stated, adding, “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.”
So far, only products with the LGBTQ brand Abprallen, a London-based designer of products that sometimes mixes imagery and messages about gender with the macabre, have been removed.
Target has come under fire after marketing other products including “tuck-friendly” and “extra crotch coverage” female swimsuits, “gender fluid” mugs, “queer all year” calendars, and books for children as young as 2 years old that celebrate LGBTQ perspectives. The swimsuits were only marketed and sold to adults, according to a spokesperson for the company.