Dear Target: Please Ban the Threatening Customers, Not Your Pride Products

Target
Target

Dear Target, there are few consumer groups that adore your brand more than the LGBTQ+ community and our advocates. Your decision to carry products for the LGBTQ+ community that are both functional and recognizing of queer designers, product makers, and innovators touched my heart. I told our team, “We need to be doing business with Target because equalpride shares their values and mission and delivers the intended LGBTQ+ audience — and more of it — as the top Comscore-rated voice to the LGBTQ+ community.” We have never had backlash against the brands that advertise with us, because we deliver the intended LGBTQ+ audience by LGBTQ+ owner/operators who have a long history in the publishing arena.

As we know, Target hesitated in its commitment to our community. It temporarily halted years of progress and corporate leadership in a second with the fateful decision to remove, replace, or diminish the position of products aimed at LGBTQ+ customers. Why? Reports were coming in from Target store locations of unruly customers displaying their homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia by throwing clothing on the ground with verbal words of hate I cannot even repeat.

When I hear of such disruptive, hateful, and likely criminal behavior, I often think of my children. What if my children displayed such behavior? There would be age-appropriate repercussions, such as not getting anything from the family trip to Target, and a directive to adjust their behavior to one of politeness, kindness, and respect. Target, too, should look at those customers who demonstrate such childish and criminal behavior as tantamount to shoplifting and remove and ban these unruly customers from Target (and even Target.com). I can assure that no self-respecting Target fan will want that to be their fate.

And, Target, don’t stop there. Do as you want our children and future generations to do. Stand up for the very principles that supported the decisions to carry the many amazing LGBTQ-focused products in the first place. Don’t ban or diminish the products at the center of this dispute. Live your truth. Live your words of commitment to equality in every aspect of the company. Show us you how Target is the most inclusive company to work for, invest in, shop at, and do business with. Many people and organizations are asking Target to do the same.

Aside from providing the products that make life happen, Target is known in my household as being one of the most supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community. I hope that’s still true, because not only is it right thing to do, it makes business sense, as well. Pew Research found that 61 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage is good for society. Additionally, Gallup found 1 in 5 of young Americans identify as LGBTQ+. The CDC found that 1 in 4 American high schoolers identify as LGBTQ+. A “fluidity renaissance” is upon us and Target was riding the crest of the wave. Just like any good surfer, it’s time to get back on board and reverse the decision to remove their Pride products, which are so much more than merchandise. Ban the intolerant customers, not the inclusive products.

Thank you.

Mark Berryhill, CEO, equalpride and LGBTQ+ certified owner of equalpride, publisher of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, Plus, Pride.com, and founder of The Advocate Channel.