targeted for boycott

Target removes some of its Pride merchandise after violent threats to staff

Target and some of its Pride 2023 merchandise
(Photos: Abprallen/Target/Shutterstock)

A couple of weeks after unveiling its 2023 Pride merchandise in stores, Target says it has felt the need to remove some of the items. It says employees have endured threats of violence and confrontation, and it’s acting out of safety concerns for staff.

Almost as soon as the items went on sale, right-wing accounts began to criticize the rainbow-adorned merchandise.

Rep. Lauren Boeber is among those calling for a boycott of the store. She vowed , “Target won’t be getting another dollar from me.”

Yesterday, Target announced it had removed some of the items due to safety concerns.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement Tuesday. ”Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

Abprallen designs

Target did not say which items it had removed. However, prompting much of the backlash are designs by UK-based company Abprallen. It’s led by designer Erik Carnell, a trans man. He describes his brand aesthetic as “pastel goth LGBT Pride”.

On Instagram, Carnell says one of his best-selling products is a pin with the slogan, “Satan respects pronouns”. Some designs feature pentangles and images of Satan. Some rightwingers seized upon this, despite Target not selling the Satan pin.

Carnell spoke to the Daily Dot earlier this week. He told how he was initially excited by the approach from Target. He contributed three designs for sale: an adult shirt that says “Cure transphobia, not trans people,” a bag featuring a spaceship and a rainbow that says “too queer for here,” and a fanny pack that says “We belong here.”

Check them out below.

“I wanted to create a range that would embrace younger me and tell him that who he is is more than OK, that being trans is special and wonderful and that the closet is not made for him to thrive in.”

Carnell said his Satan pin is tongue-in-cheek.

“I don’t believe in Satan. I don’t believe in the Bible…. It’s a metaphor,” he told the Daily Dot.

Carnell said he had received hundreds of death threats online in recent days. He “lost count” after the first 500.

“I’ve had a lot of death threats. I’ve had a lot of threats of gun violence.” Carnell said.

Queerty could not find the Abprallen designs on the Target website this morning.

Swatch raided in Malaysia

Target is not the only store to run into problems with its Pride items. In Malaysia, Swatch stores have reportedly been raided by authorities because of watches with rainbows.

The raids reportedly took place in mid-May at several stores in Kuala Lumpur.

Part of the Swatch Pride 2023 collection
Part of the Swatch Pride 2023 collection (Photo: Swatch)

“We strongly contest that our collection of watches using rainbow colors and having a message of peace and love could be harmful to whomever,” Swatch Group chief Nick Hayek Jr told Options.

“On the contrary, Swatch always promotes a positive message of joy in life. This is nothing political.”

He went on to ponder if the Malaysia Home Ministry had plans to “confiscate the many beautiful natural rainbows that are showing up thousand times a year in the sky of Malaysia.”