No, Target Isn’t Being Homophobic By Not Carrying Frank Ocean’s CD

This week a number of LGBT blogs were quick to cry homophobia when it turned out Target wasn’t going to be carrying Frank Ocean’s debut, Channel Orange, which drops  July 17.

The idea was Frank’s admission of a same-sex relationship was out of line with the store’s ideology.

Sorry, but that’s gotta be one of the dumbest things we’ve heard all week. (And you wouldn’t believe how much shit flies across our desk.) Yes, there was some question about a group the company donated to once, but Target carries music by plenty of gay and lesbian artists—Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Adam Lambert, Ricky Martin, etc. They’ve sold Pride T-shirts. Hell, they even carry Brokeback Mountain on Blu-ray.

But the word went out and, once an allegation like that is made, it’s almost impossible to unmake it. Leading the charge was Ocean’s manager, Christian Clancy, who tweeted that it was “interesting” the big-box store wasn’t carrying the album, “since they also donate to non-equal rights organizations.” Ocean himself tweeted that you could blame the decision “on a generational gap”

But Ocean’s team decided to release Channel Orange on iTunes a week before brick-and-mortar stores like Target could carry it. That’s why it decided not to order the record: Target’s pissed, and it’s fighting back. (A similar maneuver was made by Barnes & Noble last year when DC Comics announced it wasn’t releasing graphic novels through B&N’s Nook device.)

Clancy knew that, but this makes for good publicity. As does Ocean’s revelation days before the big push for the album and an appearance on Jimmy Fallon. Is this just a case of an artist and his people being anxious after a controversial move, or are we looking at an orchestrated media blitz fueled by a conveniently timed coming out?

It’s happened before.

Target stepped in to defend itself in a statement that clarified “the claims made about Target’s decision to not carry the Frank Ocean album are absolutely false. Target supports inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of our business. Our assortment decisions are based on a number of factors, including guest demand.”

Clancy either regretted his charge, or realized he got the attention he wanted, and recanted his original statement:  “My response was simply an emotional knee jerk reaction,” he said. “I apologize for my comments about Target,” he tweeted. “They are not carrying Franks album because it went digital first. Not for ANY other reason.”

Still, you just know those morons at Focus on the Family are going to claim some kind of “victory.”

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  • Pirate

    That’s probably true, but then you have to wonder about the other albums that were pre-released on iTunes. Like Watch the Throne (if I’m not mistaken). And while they care of the music of other gay artists, this one JUST made a huge splash. Oh, and you can’t get those pride shirts in the stores. Gotta order them online, for what it’s worth.

    May all just be coincidences, and Ocean’s pre-release broke the camel’s back. I’m reserving judgment for the time being.

  • Belize

    LOL. Big deal. Considering the fact that it has gotten a 9.5 from Pitchfork, that the album is released by a major label, that the story accompanying the album has made a “big splash” and considering the fact that the album is actually good (ALBEIT NOT REALLY DESERVING A 9.5 IN MY OPINION,) it will sell enough to sustain the parties it needs to sustain.

    If not, considering Ocean’s lyrical content, musical choices, etc… he seems to be the kind of artist that cares more about progressive artistic movement than sales.

    By the way, do people really still buy CDs from Target (LOL) considering the fact that majority of the music it sells is already on Youtube, Dailymotion and a host of other websites? Keep dreaming, Target. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if majority of the people who tolerates your primitive thinking are the ones who don’t have enough money to buy something they can get for free “on duh thang ye call an inturnet.”

  • Belize

    “Still, you just know those morons at Focus on the Family are going to claim some kind of “victory.”

    LOL. And that would remind me of Volleyball players celebrating like they won a game after winning a point and reducing their opponent’s lead to 22 points. Again. Big deal.

  • Colin

    Who Target does or doesn’t support will not affect my decision to shop there. That is a slippery slope that’s not worth going down. Businesses and the people that run them have a right to disagreement on gay issues.

  • Dionte

    I shop at target more than any other store, I’ll probably not go there for a while but I’m sure I’ll be back eventually.

  • Kim

    Y:@Pirate: yeah they sold. Watch the Throne after it was on ITunes

  • Cam

    Sorry, but their excuse is B.S. They are going to NOT sell the number one selling CD and are calling it a business decision? Target sells other CD’s that have download deals.

    As for their They’ve sold Pride T-shirts. Don’t forget, it was a PR move, they made a profit of them, and they capped out the percentage of profit they were giving away from them FAR below the amount that they have donated to anti-gay politicians.

  • Dave

    I think that Christian Clancy’s knee jerk reaction was immature and silly. Get your facts right before you accuse, if not you sound like the nut jobs that we gay people already have to defend against. The gay community cracks me up, always wanting to cry discrimination, but don’t always know what or how they are being discriminated against. “Oh, so it wasn’t because he is gay, it was something different”. Apology doesn’t matter, the cookie jar is broken, and an apology doesn’t fix it. I understand Target in this matter, you sold it online first for download AND making it very easy to be torrented before they even had the chance to sell it, why would they want to waste their square footage on this type of arrangement. It is great for the artist to have so many options for their music to be bought, but it doesn’t sound great for the retailer that has to take a loss when the product doesn’t sell. Had they released it in stores and online at the same time and they refused, you might have had an issue, but that isn’t the case here.

  • Chuck

    To paraphrase someone on the right: 80% your friend is still your friend. If we are going to keep worrying about Target’s CEO contributing to one candidate and ignore Target’s record on benefits, Pride sponsorships and community donations, then we might as well just get mad at everyone who doesn’t espouse every tenet of the so-called gay rights agenda. Really? Why are we throwing the baby out with the bath water? Come on, guys. Sometimes, a business decision is just that – a decision based on the interests of the business.

  • Dave

    @Chuck: Spot on…

  • Vincent

    Really? That is BS. Jay-Z and Kanye West’s The Throne was ALSO released on itunes a week before stores sold them and Target still sold the CD. So if that was really the case why Jay-Z and Kanye and not Frank Ocean???

  • Vincent

    @Pirate: You are dean on!

  • Cam


    Chuck, because after they promised they would stop donating to that politician. You know, the one with ties to the group that says gays should be killed….

    They donated again.

  • mc

    If you’re going to write this story, you should at least complete it. Ocean’s manager almost immediately apologized for his comments on Twitter. Here’s the Quote:

    “I apologize for my comments about Target. They are not carrying Frank’s album because it went digital first. Not for ANY other reason. … My response was simply an emotional knee jerk reaction. … Stop. Breath. Do the best you can. Be honest. Keep it moving.”

    Now why didn’t you include that in this little article.

    I think his team is inexperienced & they’re probably overwhelmed by how this has blown up for them.

    Target does have an uneven history with Gay rights so someone thinking homophobia is not coming out of left field like you’re trying to make it seems.

    I’ve noticed this particular Queerty writer is never happy about how celebrities have come out of the closet.

  • mc

    Oops, it looks like you did include the quote. I must have missed it. I do think Target didn’t include it because of a business decision–not that it’s going to help. Younger people tend to purchase digital music & they figured that’s who this music will appeal to anyway.

  • Kev C

    Target doesn’t carry The Transformed Man by William Shatner. A classic rap album that Frank Ocean sampled heavily.

  • HM

    Another case of someone screaming ‘homophobia’ when none existed. Like the Rite Aid photo making the rounds on social media…..patently false. An accusation made by some petty, vindictive temper tantrum throwing shithook who thought it’d be sly to whip people up over nothing just to “get back” at whoever wronged them…..

    When immature brats scream ‘gay hate’ just because they don’t get their way, it weakens the whole concept of being against bigotry , and shits on real, legitimate passion against injustice.

  • Dave

    Target’s donation to the anti-gay politician was back in 2010, since then there has not been any donations to that politician or the group that he sponsored. I am not a regular shopper at Target or any box store for that matter, but, please stop skewering companies and people that have seen their past and has moved on in a positive manner. I do know that Target has donated to many great causes like Meal on Wheels, The Colorado Wildfire Fund and many more if you take some time to look it up. Sometimes people make errors in life, if they try to correct them and move forward, then we should have the grace/sense to bury the hatchet as well. If we continue to be an elite group that doesn’t forgive, then we are doomed to be second class forever, and not only Target, but other companies as well will stop being our allies, and start skewering us again, and who needs that, we’ve had that since the beginning of time. Target is now and was then an ally for the gay community, let’s not continue to tarnish that part of the story with things like “well back then you said this”

  • Basch

    I love how so many gay people suddenly know who Frank Ocean is and act like they like him just because he
    came out. I can’t even tell you how many gay people I know suddenly had “is now following Frank Ocean” next to their names on the Activity section of my twitter.

  • Kim

    JUST read on WSJ.com there is a website Hate tweets to Frank. OCEAN. His manager. is. Probably hypersensitive

  • JT

    Who still buys new CDs in stores? The majority of people just pay to download them off itunes or amazon.

    Brokeback mountain was not a “gay” movie but it’s a movie about bisexual shepherds.

  • MJ (different from the other one)

    @Basch: the question is do even really like his music. probably not

  • Geri

    Wikipedia says Frank Ocean is a bisexual musician, not a gay or lesbian artist.

    Mind you, if you ask me Ricky Martin and Elton John are both bisexual musicians as well – I mean they did both had a significant relationship with a woman before getting married to a man. So I suggest to Dan Avery that he should have written “plenty of lgbt artists” instead of “plenty of gay and lesbian artists”. Then he would’ve given Frank some respect and could’ve given Lady GaGa a mention as well

    I’m sure Target stock GaGa :)

  • Avenger

    I wish Target hadn’t bothered to dignify their choice to not carry Francine River’s CD with a response. Their reasons are their reasons. Homophobic or not. No explanation is owed to anyone. There are a bunch of other outlets people can buy that stupid CD at, let them go to one of them.

  • Mike N

    Haven’t been a Target for two years now. As long as the CEO is there, I won’t be going. I don’t trust him and some of the board of directors. Sold all my stock and threw out all the Target crap in my house (never bought and clothes there to begin with). Spend your money where you feel comfortable, I know I do. The red bull’s eye is a creepy logo to begin with.

  • Kim

    @Avenger: Poor bitter Gayvenger

  • Cam

    @Dave: said…

    “Target’s donation to the anti-gay politician was back in 2010, since then there has not been any donations to that politician or the group that he sponsored”

    That is a lie, AFTER they said they wouldn’t donate to him again, they made ANOTHER donation, tried to hide it and got busted AGAIN.

    So please stop lying.

  • TW

    I’ve worked at at Target almost 7 years, it makes sense for them to carry jay-z’s cd even though it was already released digitally, he’s one of the biggest names in rap, frank ocean is not, oh and by the way did you know Target updated it’s wedding registry to be gay friendly? Register as partners so a couple doesn’t have to decide who gets the “wife” role

  • Nick


    Because Jay-Z and Kanye West are Jay-Z and Kanye West. Watch the Throne was *the* most anticipated hip hop project of 2011 and was guaranteed to sell no matter the format. Target was going to sell a shit ton of copies of Watch the Throne no matter how far in advance it was digitally released. They are zeitgeist artists and household names that the casual consumer will buy on impulse. Instead, with Frank Ocean- this is one of those rare capturing-lightning-in-a-bottle marketing campaigns that the stars must align for. Playing devil’s advocate- I’m sure that Target saw that they suddenly had this out of nowhere opportunity to sell 3 times as many units due to the deafening buzz, only to have the rug pulled from underneath them before they could even adjust their initial shipment demands. It rubs salt in the wound to know for a fact that this was Def Jam’s intent all along, and intentionally deceived the brick and mortar stores. I also feel that this whole debacle is much less about sales specifically for “Channel Orange”, and more for albums in the future that ride the hype wave and succumb to the convenience of downloading.

  • ccm800

    Well Kanye and J did the same thing (release digitally prior to stores) but that carried them so why dont they qualify THAT?

  • Frank

    Ok, so people who are are buying Frank Ocean’s CD must be only doing it because he’s came out as queer. There can’t be any other possible reason, like they were introduced to his music because of the the stories done about him coming out, sampled the album and just happened to like it. No, couldn’t possibly be that. Such a cynical bunch. If coming out as gay increases your album sales then what happened with Cheryl Wright? I didn’t see her topping the charts after her announcement. When Adam Lambert came out of the closet, I didn’t buy his CD, cause I didn’t care for his album, but believe it or not I actually like Channel Orange, so on my i-phone it went.

  • Maggie

    This has been common practice for a long time. Hollywood Video often refused to carry some Paramount videos because Blockbuster got an exclusive early release deal simply because Blockbuster’s CEO also happened to own Paramount at the time.

  • MKisNE

    I used to think it was ridiculous but now I’m remembering sometimes it comes down to a few random people in power to make these decisions. And Target did something anti gay and weird last year, no doubt those same people are still working there.

  • Tom Nunnery

    Sorry, but I still buy new releases from stores like Target;however, I will not go to Target again to purchase ANYTHING.

  • Jaroslaw

    #22 JT what does Brokeback Mountain have to do with this? Since you brought it up, they may have been bisexual, but tons of Gay men from that era married because they thought they had no other choice. I met many of them in their 70s, 80s and 90’s at the Gay community center near where I live.

  • Geri

    @Jaroslaw: “Everyone told me it was a movie about gay cowboys but when I went to see it, it turned out to be a movie about bisexual shepherds!!!” Is kind of a bitter joke about the movie Brokeback Mountain in the bisexual community.

    Some didn’t see the funny side at all and took the matter very seriously. For example Amy Andre, who wrote: “Why can’t film reviewers say the word “bisexual” when they see lead characters with sexual and romantic relationships with both men and women? I am unaware of a single review of Brokeback calling the leads what they are–a sad statement on the invisibility of bisexual experience and the level of biphobia in both the mainstream and gay media.”

    I thought it was amazing how many women dragged their husbands and boyfriends to see the movie. Annie Proulx is not really a Man Love Romance genre fiction writer, but I think the film of her book really tapped into the Man Love Romance audience – which I believe is mainly female.

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