Equality Michigan Comes ThisClose To A Formal Target Boycott. Why Hold Back?

For donating to anti-gay political candidates — and then apologizing for it, while continuing to, uh, donate to anti-gay candidates — Target has already drawn the ire of queers across the country. And while your decision whether to shop at the bullseyed retailer is a personal call, Equality Michigan just made it an institutional one. Well, almost. The state gay rights group is calling on supporters to reevaluate where they spend their dollars. And yet, the organization is not calling for an outright boycott. Where are your balls, boys?

“We cannot tell anybody where they should spend their money. However, it is Equality Michigan’s position that if Target’s political investments are considered, supporters of equality will conclude that continuing to shop there would be counterproductive to their goals, to put it mildly,” says Emily Dievendorf, Equality Michigan’s policy director, who fails to note that Equality Michigan regularly tells people where to spend their money: with donations to Equality Michigan.

It’s as close as she’ll get to saying Target should be banned by gays. Which is ridiculous.

Target and its executives are using the money you spend with them to try to buy anti-gay politicians like Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer public offices, from which they will infringe on your rights. And yet the Human Rights Campaign, let alone a state group like Equality Michigan, won’t say enough is enough?

(Meanwhile in Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Gay and Lesbian Community Network is also refusing to grow a pair: Interim president Pat Ward says she and her partner work at Target, and “the Target on Alpine is truly supportive of gay rights and they do not tolerate any gay bashing in any way, shape or form. They’ve actually dismissed employees for doing that.” As if that excuses the corporation’s executive suite behavior.)

Should we at all be concerned about all the LGBT employees at Target who, theoretically, will face job losses if Target stores do less business because of a boycott? Of course. By no means do we want to see any American, let alone a member of our own, face even more difficult economic circumstances. And yet I’ve never been somebody who can rationalize the sacrificing of my principles and cash a paycheck from a company that doesn’t think I’m an equal person. I know I’ll take heat for it. So be it.

The real test I’m interested in seeing, however, will be in Minnesota where this all started. Will Twin Cities Pride, which accepted Target’s donations in the past to put on its events, this year refuse to take the retailer’s cash? Or will it act as PFLAG Minnesota did, and opt not to bite the hand that feeds it, effectively letting a multi-billion dollar behemoth railroad your equality? AND THEN GET YOU TO WEAR ITS LOGO.

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  • scribe

    when I first heard about what target did, I wasn’t going to shop there anymore… That lasted a few weeks, until I went Xmas shopping wit my dad and forgot. Then I came back on this site and felt like crap for forgetting. I wont forget again… Queerty

  • Riker

    Target had some great sales this month, but I will not shop at a place that gives my money to the likes of Bachmann and Emmer, two of the worst anti-gay politicians. Boycotting is the only thing that corporate America understands.

  • Screaming Queen

    GOProud has the nerve to vote republican and get stories all over the interweb where vicious queens show just how tolerant we are as a community, but the Target stories not so much?

    If anybody is REALLY this clueless it’s a sad little commentary on our community. The truth is, retail queens are a large part of the Target workforce, and we can’t boycott a company that employees so many of us, even if they donate to groups that would have us turned into Soylent Green with the snap of a finger. Gay Inc doesn’t want you boycotting Target, and they’ve told you so in a thousand little ways, why the confusion? Now be the good little hypocrite the gay left expects you to be and start going along to get along.

    There’s a story about the A-List Queens somewhere generating twice as many comments as the stories about Target and GOProud, with priorities like this is it any wonder we still don’t have non discriminatory workplace laws?

  • Mountainword

    I no longer shop at Target. That simple. There are thousands of other stores out there.

  • Charlie

    Maybe because Target is a large contributor to AIDS Organizations? Target has contributed over $10,000 annually to the Sacramento AIDS Run Walk for several years, as well as heavily promote the event. That money has meant a real difference to the AIDS agencies here in Sacramento, and more importantly, to the clients they serve.
    I suspect that Sacramento is not unique, and that Target supports similar endeavors across the country.
    Perhaps that is why no one wants to Target them for a Boycott.
    Conflicted, yes.

  • a

    Huge corporation that is difficult to boycott. Additionally Target doesn’t hate gay people, they just put them at a lower priority than their profit margins which is what most if not all major supermarket retail chains do.

  • JAW

    Give it a rest… to try and boycott Target is a waste of time.

    First off, they will not be able to tell how much business they are losing. Retailers have no way of knowing who is gay or straight. Since the boycott began, their stock price has risen about 10%.

    Second. Target has always been a welcoming place for gays to work. Target gave benefits etc long before most other companies.

    Third… Target has given support to may gay groups esp in Minn where they are headquartered.

    I do not know of one company that supports us 100% on Everything… indeed I would bet that we would disagree about lots of things with most companies.

    Target needs to do what they feel will be best for the entire company, it’s employees and stockholders. I do agree that the person/group that they gave money to are scum to us, but the company needs to look at the entire picture.

    If we want to boycott a Company that is helping the far right, we should go after Sirius/XM radio… they just gave Dr Laura a Big contract and a platform to preach her Hate of Gays. Sirius/XM also gives a huge platform to many many far right crazies… yet we do not go after them… Why Not?

  • Mark

    @JAW: Tim Gill comes to mind.

  • JAW

    Tim Gill’s Company is a foundation promoting LGBT rights. I agree that Tim is a great role model, but I would bet that many LGBT people would have some issues with how he goes about his business.
    Be it too much, or not enough effort into any part of the group… perhaps The Trans group is getting too much, or not enough. Or perhaps the LBT groups feel too much emphasis is being put on the G part… etc.

    I guess the point that I was trying to make is that we will be hard pressed to find consensus among all, or even most, LGBT people on who is a great public company that supports us 100% of the time.

    I still do not understand why Target is the ONLY company that some want boycotted… why not some of the others that look good, but are not 100%. Best Buy also made contributions… why do we ignore them

    Why not a boycott of Sirius/XM… that would be easy to do. We all call and cancel our subscriptions and say because they are anti gay.

  • Eric

    Because they thought about it for more than 10 minutes. That’s why they decided against it.

    Feeble boycotts (like the one Queerty is trying to start) do not hurt the “executive suite” or the stock holders, the way corporations cut short term losses is by cutting payroll, so the only people that are taking a hit are the hourly wage earners who are now only working 27 hours a week instead of 35 and don’t get a raise at the end of the year.

  • Jonathan

    @a: Bingo. We have a winner.

  • TommyOC

    As I’ve said time and again, Target does more for comunities – including ours – than Walmart does.

    so I an shop at one but not the other… Which do I choose?

  • saltydog

    As a Minneapolis boy I feel conflicted over this, Target does a lot for our state and it is a local company so a lot of the money stays in the state and helps the local economy. Also living downtown where else should I buy essentials like toilet paper? The only other option downtown is CVS

  • GayDNCBoycott

    @Charlie: Wow, some people are easily bought out… So what if Target’s “Christian” leader is working against our rights (Unless we get sick that is…) … So I guess a group that gives money to fight against African American rights, but gives money to Sickle Cell Orgs would be ok too, huh?

  • Jeffree

    Since Queerty is now calling for a boycott of Target, perhaps a list of companies we should *support* would be helpful.

    And, how do Wal-mart and K-Mart stack up against Target when looking at the same criteria?

  • Josh

    I still shop there. Despite their choice of campaign contributions, EVERYTHING ELSE about the company is gay friendly. Donation-gate is the one single negative mark on their HRC Corporate Equality Index score card. I really don’t understand why we’re jumping down the company’s throat so hard. The corporate decision to offer medical benefits to same-sex partners is a MUCH larger financial pledge than their donation to Tom Emmer.

    They didn’t donate to Tom Emmer because he’s anti-gay, they donated to him because he was pro-business candidate in the race.

  • Dave in Northridge

    Here’s where a knowledge of history would help. The Coors family has had a long-term track record of funding organizations like the Heritage Foundation which are hostile to LGBT civil rights, and, through the 1970s and into the 1980s, there was a boycott of Coors beer in gay bars and events in at least San Francisco and New York. I think it was a lot more widespread than that too.

    Why hasn’t this come up? Because one of the conditions that ended it had to do with the Coors beer company contributing almost as much to LGBT causes as the Coors family contributed to right-wing organizations. When the Target Company does the same thing, and it may already contribute as much nationally to LGBT causes as it gave to Minnesota Forward, I’ll consider shopping at Target again, but I’m doing very well without it now.

  • Jeffree

    @Dave in Northridge: Coors was also the first major American brewery to provide health/insur.ance benefits for same-sex couples. AB & Miller took years before they caught up with them in that dep’t.

    [I don ‘t drink beer even, so it doesn’t matter to me, per se, but I think we should be able to compare companies like Target vs Wal-mart vs Kmart in terms of their overall record, not just political donations]

  • Tessie Tura

    Since John Q. Customer walks in the store rather than the corporate office, I tend to think more in that direction. Target supports gay organizations and their gay employees, as does Walmart. I don’t know about Kmart. I work for Walmart, and find them to be the most gay-supportive company I have worked for, ever – which may not be saying much, but in my rural Alabama, it means a lot. (I’ve been fired from three jobs, refused advancement in one – only because I was gay. That’s still legal in Alabama.) So I don’t shop at Target because I work at Walmart. Well, Walmart does not carry the sensitive-skin shaving cream I use and Target does, but other than that…

  • Michael

    Just when I thought the gripes of 2010 were over, here you come again with this worn out Target nonsense. People need jobs, including gay people, and many gay people work for Target. People are broke, including gay people, and Target is a good place to stretch a buck. Target gives away a bunch of money to worthwhile causes, and yes, many are gay related. Boycotts do nothing other than give people an opportunity to gather and vent. Simply not constructive, at all.

  • Daez

    Boycott Target shop at Wal-Mart. That will show those gay haters, and we all know that we should just love Wal-Mart. Oh wait, what is that, Wal-Mart is a money hungry greedy corporation willing to step all over their workers, gay and straight? Oh, K-Mart then, shop at K-Mart. Oh wait, K-Mart isn’t gay friendly either. Where exactly do you want us all to shop?

    The problem with boycotts is that if we actually did boycott every money hungry, greedy, unethical corporation that gives us a reason to boycott them, we would have no place to shop.

  • Obama DID say DADT would happen on his watch... (John From England)

    The problem with this article and a lot of Queertys in the same guise is that it’s not well rounded as an essay and provides evidence based comparisons or any conclusions which are really important if you are trying to get people who only see the smaller picture, to see the bigger picture.

    That is literally a change of mindset which won’t be done by an unobjective rant that is specked with little examples of successful boycotts.

    We’re not as inherently right wing religious as you lot but we still have good old fashion cognitive dissonance and a high percentage of the population with low integrative complexity.

    An example to give you would be fair-trade. Where’s it may not be used widespread by EVERYONE-poor marketing-it has really changed the landscape on how people consume in the UK. There was this qualitative research done in Panorama: a documentary program, that showed pictures of african children picking cocoa and asked people if they would but chocolate picked by a kid. A huge percentage said ‘of course not! And were horrified to think that this was happening’.

    Now this was only research done and I’m not sure if Fairtrade took that on board to step up their marketing but what was interesting was that however much people initially go on about’I can only care for myself in this climate, blah, blah, blah, don’t care about politics’, when they were faced with visual evidence of what a company is doing or a coporate process, it changed their thinking process to realise that all actions have consequences.

    From the kid buying the cadbursy chocolate down the local shop to the kid picking the cocoa for nothing in West Africa to make the chocolate.

  • Cam

    Amazon had anything I would have formerly bought at Target, and they shipped it to my no problem boycotting.

  • Franky

    There should be a boycott of Target until the donate an exactly equal amount of money to LGBT charities, that they did towards the anti-gay candidates. Unless/until then, I ain’t shopping there. And it’s not necessarily even about the money for me, but the fact they essentially lied, apologized for the fact the money was going to the anti-gay candidate, went out of their way to make statements of how much they support the gays, but as soon as the spotlight was off, they went back to their same practices.

  • Chris

    I guess a nine month tour in Iraq hardened this gay soldier. I agree with the writer about these organizations having little to no courage and vigor in their campaigns. Like tiny little mice they cautiously squeak their little peace, that no one hears, then scurry back into the holes in the wall they came from.

    However being a born Michigander I can tell you that our organizations and the typical mindset of LGBT organizations on campuses and abroad is pretty much as pacifistic as you can get. No fight, just squeak your peace and hope no one gets offended. Sorry but if not for groups like people willing to fight and groups like Act Up, back in the day when I was just a wee little man, we would have never gotten where we are today. Sometimes you have to anger people or put the fear of god in them, before you can make friends, make change, and progress.

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