blood money

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:

Lavender magazine, which you know as the rag that broke the Pastor Tom Brock story, says it best:

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.

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  • That Guy...

    *watches while Queerty realizes this issue is more complicated than they initially thought*

    I’m glad Queerty finally clarified that PFLAG article it posted that was outright libelous… Oh, you mean Target didn’t buy them out as the headline stated (stated as fact, not suggested)? Someone finally tipped you off that a 501(c)(3) has rules to play by?

    Where is Queerty’s apology to PFLAG, a wonderful support (not activist) organization?

  • Dollie

    I’m confused…
    So we aren’t happy when Target doesn’t give a glbtq org money as an apology AND we are still not happy when they do?

    What does Target have to do to win back our affection? Sponsor a Pride event? Contract proudly gay designers? Partner with Bravo?

    Oh wait….

  • Dollie

    P.S.- Not saying I’m completely happy with Target again. And I believe the gentleman who is responsible for the Emmer donation should be fired.

  • Dan

    Actually under the law, a 501C(3) can join boycotts. The only thing a 501C(3) cannot do is endorse specific candidates. They can however list where all the candidates stand on specific issues and let readers draw their own conclusions. So, yes, a 501C(3) CAN join a boycott. It doesn’t violate their limitations since they are not endorsing any candidate.

  • Yuki

    Wait, now we’re mad when Target /does/ donate to gay rights organizations? Weren’t we angry when they /didn’t/?

  • Michael

    By your logic, and I’m referring to more than one of you posters, the NAACP should accept money from those who support the policies of the KKK. Makes total sense to me.

  • Michael

    Well, Queerty, you did a darn fine job of letting us know we would all turn to scum if we ever supported Target, so that’s that. Surely no compromise is one of the guiding principles of Pride, right?

  • Michael

    @Dollie: HA! That all sounds pretty gay to me, Dollie. I can’t imagine any corporation going that far.

  • brent

    Prabal Gurung WHO IS GAY, is rumored to be partnering with Target as the next Guest Designer… please email his PR person and let her know how disappointing this news is!!! These designers have to understand that we won’t let this slide and that their actions have consequences… Boycott Prabal and email [email protected] or tweet Prabal and let him know what a sellout to the gay community he is– tweet to @prabalgurung

  • DR

    and thus the reality of screaming “boycott” sets in when the company in question is not as evil as everyone makes it out to be and the shades of gray are the predominant color.. not black or white. go figure.

  • Scotty B

    There is NO GRAY when it come to the CEO Greg Steinhofel… He supports Focus On The Family. He is against gay rights. And until we stop sitting back and acting, things will never change. Ever.

  • Scotty B

    There is NO GRAY when it come to the CEO Greg Steinhofel… He supports Focus On The Family. He is against gay rights. And until we stop sitting back and and acting, things will never change. Ever.

  • UMB

    There are several Republican booths at TC pride, should they be barred too?

  • Mark

    This is NOT a Republican issue. This is about a candidate who has spearheaded a long history of anti-gay legislation, is openly hostile towards any legislation to treat GLBT citizens equally. He has financially donated to the You Can Run But Not Hide ministry that has promoted the execution of Gay people. They also have a daily radio show that he has been on numerous times. Mr. Emmer’s calls these folks his friends and nice people. There is a lot more ugly and hate from Mr. Emmer. Target has endorsed him for Governor with this unwise and reckless donation. That’s the issue.

  • Michael

    @Mark: Oh, thanks! For the longest time, I thought this was all about punishing Target. I had no idea this was about some goof running for political office who will likely wind up getting caught with his pants down or his hand in a cookie jar anyhow.

  • Phillip

    Twin Cities pride is not a gay rights organization. It is a for-profit outfit dedicated to throwing the very large, very commercialized Pride event in Minneapolis every summer. It’s all they do, and it’s very well known they don’t do much of anything for “the community” in terms of activism or rights advocacy. TC Pride is all party.

    Those rainbow Target logos are indeed ubiquitous in the pride festival each year. But the Pride festival was in late June, months before this whole donation thing took place… My point is that they’re not about the community, they’re about throwing a festival and they’ll probably continue to take money from whoever will give it to them.

  • UMB

    @Phillip: @Phillip:

    30 seconds of internet research will find you this:

    “Twin Cities Pride is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that produces the annual Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender Pride Celebration in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Our legal name is Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender Pride/Twin Cities d/b/a Twin Cities Pride.” –

  • The Milkman

    There’s a difference between sending money to a community festival like TC Pride and sending hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of political candidates with horrific records on GLBT issues and who support groups advocating our execution. One does not balance out the other.

    TC Pride can take money from anyone they wish. Target can support any candidate it wishes. I, in turn, will continue to buy my cheap crap elsewhere if I can.

  • Eric

    Umm… TC Pride happened WAY before Target donated to MN Forward. Queerty, you might want to make that clear in your article which makes it sound the other way around.

    And aside from this donation, Target is arguably the best of the Giant Evil Corporations when it comes to Queer issues. I think that warrants a little more understanding from our side (well, your side, Queerty) rather than a knee-jerk, witch-burning reaction. We can resolve this issue without losing a powerful ally (or looking like whiny bitches like those Fundies who scream “boycott” every five minutes).

  • ewe

    I think MOMA should not accept Target sponsoring free admission to the museum every friday night and Oprah should not accept their sponsorship either. I have not shopped at Macys since they pulled the window display down in Boston and Target has joined the list, not that i ever liked their crappy shit anyway.

  • jeffrey bryan

    Listen, I get it…. Gay, Inc. has decided to hate Target. But not all gays support that conclusion. A lot of people understand that they donated to a PAC, not a candidate (a PAC that has donated to several pro-gay candidates as well). A lot of people understand there is a difference between a CEO and a Company as well. Did they f up? Yeah… but they’ve also apologized and it’s time to move on, or at least offer up a less biased representation of the facts..

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  • Katie

    For those saying “wait i thought we were mad when they didn’t donate? why are you mad now?”

    You’re missing the point. The reason people are mad is the hypocrisy. Yeah they helped fund Pride…then turned around and continued to fund candidates who want LGBT rights to be taken away. I remember there was some thing with Lady Gaga (Not a fan but I heard about it) where she said she would give Target exclusive release to her new CD if they stopped funding anti-gay candidates. They said no and kept funding.

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