Target Helped Make Twin Cities Pride Happen. Should All Gay Groups Start Turning Away The Company’s Cash?
“It is the mission of Twin Cities Pride to commemorate and celebrate our diverse heritage, inspire the achievement of equality and challenge discrimination,” reads the pride organization’s mission statement. Kind of sounds hypocritical when you consider Twin Cities Pride accepted at least $15,000 from Target.
Home to Target Corporation, Twin Cities and its gays might be the last people you’d expect to accept money from the same company that gave $150,000 in cash and services to MN Forward to help elect anti-gay Republican candidate Tom Emmer governor of their fine state. But as a “silver” sponsor of Twin Cities Pride, Target donated between $15,000 to $25,999 (in cash or services, the company won’t say) to make this year’s events happen. How does TCP reconcile the contradiction? Especially when they refused cash from a certain other anti-gay somebody?
Brian and Lois Johnson, the Wisconsin husband-wife evangelists, were denied a booth at TCP because of their anti-gay message. That booth, of course, would’ve put cash in TCP’s coffers. Instead, thanks to a court ruling, TCP had to put up with Johnson anyhow — and he didn’t pay a dime. TC Pride Executive Director Dot Belstler says the organization attempted to block Brian because “was not supportive. He comes off that way initially. He really engages people in conversation. He’s really nice, and then all of a sudden, he gives people a free Bible, and tells them they’re going to hell, because they are sinners—homosexuality is a sin. He kind of has this bait-and-switch thing. It undermines the festival’s message of inclusivity.”
Bait-and-switch? Wait, isn’t that exactly what Target does — supporting LGBT employees (that’s how they got HRC to give ’em a 100 percent Corporate Equality Index score) but supporting politicians who want to rape away their rights? Back in July, TCP said it was “reviewing” its relationship with Target. Evidently they decided to roll with it:
When asked about the difference between excluding Johnson and not excluding Target, Belstler replied, “Right. No. I understand. Target has a very different message. They don’t bait and switch onsite. They are very family-oriented.” Belstler was referring to Target’s sponsoring TCP’s popular kids-friendly family section that offers a variety of activities. Indeed, it is a positive for the many progressive yet traditional families who attend Pride, but may not feel they have the vocabulary to explain other festival areas more suited to adults. The family section is also a hit with rainbow families.
Target actually subverts itself with this offering. The double standard here is glaring. Target baits and switches offsite, funding a homophobic and heterosexist agenda beyond anything Johnson is capable of, but is included. Johnson is honest about his homophobia and heterosexism, but is excluded.
Target, which is now selling Facebook Credit gift cards next to Bravo DVDs, finds itself it a pretty terrific position. Because of Twin Cities Pride’s 501(c)(3) tax status, the organization cannot openly criticize Target or formally join a boycott of the company. Nor can it really afford to jeopardize any money it receives from the company; these be hard times, you might’ve heard. It’s the same reason PFLAG’s Minnesota chapter isn’t stepping up to criticize Target; Target gives money to them, and turning away that cash impacts survival.
So not only has Target bought off the politicians it wants elected, it’s bought off the very Gay Inc. watchdogs that should be going after it. Not that a pride parade group should act as a watchdog for our community, but it should be celebrating the people, places, and things that support us.
Target is no longer one of them.