Target removes some LGBTQ+ items after threats to workers ahead of Pride Month

A worker walks in the parking lot outside a Target store.
Target is removing some LGBTQ+ merchandise from its stores ahead of Pride Month after an intense backlash from some customers.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Target is removing certain items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride Month, after an intense backlash from some customers who confronted workers and tipped over displays.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”

Target said that customers knocked down Pride displays at some stores, angrily approached workers and posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores.


Target declined to say which items it was removing, but among the ones that garnered the most attention were “tuck friendly” women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts. Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company that designs and sells occult- and satanic-themed LGBTQ+ clothing and accessories, have also created backlash.

The Pride merchandise has been on sale since early May. Pride Month is held in June.

The Dodgers responded to criticism for their decision to exclude the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from their June 16 Pride Night by reversing course.

May 22, 2023

Target confirmed that it has moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and backlash from shoppers in those areas.

Target’s response to confrontations in its stores is taking place as state legislatures introduce a record number of bills targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.

There are close to 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have gone before state legislatures since the start of this year — an unprecedented number, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Those efforts focus on health, particularly gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth, and education. State legislatures are pushing to prevent discussions in school regarding sexuality and gender identity.

Washington state and Minnesota enact legal protections for people who travel to there seeking reproductive and gender-affirming procedures and treatment.

April 27, 2023

At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors, though judges have temporarily blocked enforcement in some, including Arkansas. An Associated Press analysis found that often those bills sprang not from grassroots or constituent demand, but from the pens of a handful of conservative interest groups.


Target’s Pride Month collection has also been the subject of several misleading videos in recent weeks, with social media users falsely claiming that the retailer was selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits designed for kids or in kids’ sizes.

The moves come as beer brand Bud Light is still grappling with a backlash from customers angered by its attempt to broaden its customer base by partnering with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Bud Light’s parent company said that it would triple its marketing spending in the U.S. this summer as it tries to restore the sales it lost after the partnership with Mulvaney.

Target, based in Minnesota, and other retailers including Walmart and H&M have been expanding their LGBTQ+ displays to celebrate Pride Month for roughly a decade. This year, trans issues — including gender-affirming healthcare and participation in sports — have been a divisive topic in state legislatures, and the backlash has turned hostile.