As Pride Month begins, a message to Target boycotters: 'Get lost'

Pride Month 2023 has arrived, and with it are predictable waves of right-wing bellyaching over the audacity of corporations – or teachers, or schools, or pretty much anyone – showing support for LGBTQ+ people.

Target stores were targeted by online bigots for displaying Pride Month merchandise. Then the ire of the “anti-woke” crusaders turned on Kohl’s, again for the crime of selling rainbow T-shirts. Bud Light was already in hot war-on-woke water for briefly partnering with a transgender influencer. Even Chick-fil-A, once boycotted by the left for its support of anti-LGBTQ groups, got sucked into the conservative boycott blender after people found out the company – brace yourselves – has a diversity, equity and inclusion policy that talks about highly controversial concepts like “ensuring equal access” and “valuing differences.”

Rainbows and diversity are grist for the Fox News outrage mill, and if that’s the bubble you inhabit, I’m sure it all makes sense. But for most out in the real world, for the people who don’t have time to chant “Go woke, go broke!” outside their local Target or live in a state of perpetual anger, it’s all a bit much. So allow me to deliver the direct, unvarnished words I suspect many Americans would like the ever-riled-up anti-Pride posse to hear.

Some words for the Target-boycotting, LGBTQ-fearing crowd on Pride Month

Hey there, person screaming at a store manager about a Pride display. On behalf of myself and a majority of weary Americans, I’d like to ask a favor: Can you not?

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I mean, for like five dang minutes, can you just chill out and stop acting like a shirt with a rainbow on it or a movie featuring a lesbian couple marks the end of civilization? What in the actual (expletive) is wrong with you? Did a rainbow stuff you in a locker in high school? Are you so utterly lacking in hobbies you feel your only outlet is tweeting nonsense about “indoctrination” and “grooming” and other words you clearly don’t understand?

Does Satan himself shop at Target?

Benny Johnson, a conservative activist who, like yourself, seems to have way too much time on his hands, recently tweeted, “If you’re a Target shopper you’re funding Satanic child sex grooming.”

Did you read that one? I reckon you did. And I reckon you nodded your head, because that makes perfect sense to you.

The Pride flag flies above city hall after a Pride flag rising ceremony to celebrate the start of Pride month in downtown Athens, Ga., on Thursday, June 1, 2023. The Pride flag will fly over Athens during Pride Month.

So I’ll pose another question: What the (expletive) is wrong with you? What the (expletive) is wrong with all of you who have forced the synapses in your malleable brains to fire in such a way that “Target selling Pride merch” equals “Target funding Satanic child sex grooming”?

You realize that to any normal human being, that’s all a bunch of laughable nonsense, right? I mean you get, somewhere behind the wall of hatred you’ve put up to protect yourself from common sense, that YOU are the weird one in this scenario, right?

Is Pride Month a threat to heterosexuals? Of course not, you nitwit

How about conservative big-thinker Ben Shapiro tweeting this on the first day of Pride Month: “Any society that isn't normatively based on heterosexual family formation is definitionally doomed to collapse. Pretending that society ought to be apathetic about such matters – or even worse, condemnatory of the presence of traditional norms – is civilizationally suicidal.”

A Pride flag, totally not hurting anyone even a little bit.

Dude, it’s a month to show support for LGBTQ+ people, not a campaign to outlaw heterosexuality. Maybe climb down off your insecurity ladder and join the rest of us here in the Land of We’re Way Too Busy to Waste Time Getting Twirled Up About Every Damn Thing that Happens.

Down in Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has built a national reputation among the terminally aggrieved by making life as difficult as possible for LGBTQ+ people, a math teacher recently spoke to a school board in Hernando County, criticizing loony far-right fears of “indoctrination” and assorted whatnot: “No one is teaching your kids to be gay. Sometimes, they just are gay. I have math to teach. I literally don’t have time to teach your kids to be gay.”

Few Americans are actually buying into the anti-LGBTQ+ grift

That’s why all this “Pride Month is sexualizing my children” garbage is so baffling to those who don’t reside in an online tornado of opportunistic bigotry. We’re just trying to go about our days, love whoever it is we happen to love, raise our kids to respect and appreciate that people are all different and, in the short spaces between afterschool activities and dinner, maybe pop in to Target to grab a couple things.

If we happen to walk past a Pride display, so what? Maybe we love to see it. Maybe we don’t notice. Whatever.

But for you? For you it’s a plague of locusts. You can’t just walk by it, disagree with it and go about your business. You have to lose your damn minds and listen to dipsticks like far-right commentator Candace Owens, who claimed Target has been “an openly perverted company for a long time” and said on her Daily Wire show that if you shop at Target “you’re gay and you’re a pervert.”

The administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is moving to forbid classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, expanding the controversial law critics call "Don't Say Gay" as the Republican governor continues a focus on cultural issues ahead of his expected presidential run.

Good grief, do you all realize how bonkers you sound? I feel like we’re living through a terrible reboot of the 1930s propaganda film “Reefer Madness” with hysteria over drugs replaced by hysteria over the existence of transgender, gay and lesbian people.

News flash: LGBTQ+ people exist, they have always existed, nobody gets "turned" into anything and if you think letting kids know there are LGBTQ+ people in the world is "sexualizing" them, you need a nap.

Liberals get riled up about stuff, too, but let's see if you can spot the key difference

And yes, liberals also get mad at corporations and raise hell over things they find offensive. And yes, sometimes they take it too far. But there’s an important distinction: The stuff they’re getting mad about involves people who are being excluded from public life or having their very existence called into question.

The stuff triggering you all involves people being INCLUDED in public life and having their very existence acknowledged.

Can you spot the difference?

Probably not.

Whatever war you're fighting, it's going to be a lonely one

I’ll leave you with this: Whatever glorious battle you think you’re fighting – and for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it is – you’ve already lost. That saying “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” has stuck around for a reason. It’s true.

Tampa Pride Parade on March 26, 2022, two days before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the "Don't Say Gay" law.

You can shout and whoop and stomp your feet and tweet and sneer all you want. But you’re not going to bend this world back toward injustice. You’re just going to embarrass yourself. And annoy the daylights out of the rest of us in the process.

So maybe settle down a bit. Pet a dog, take a walk, start building model ships.

And for Pete’s sake, stop acting like a bunch of weirdos.

It’s freakin’ exhausting.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook

More from Rex Huppke:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pride Month begins as right-wing groups protest LGBTQ Target displays