The target employee subreddit is an incredibly daunting corner of the internet right now

A Target window looms over one of the stores

Mega-corporations don’t care about their queer employees, nor their queer customers, and Target is the latest major corporation to make that painfully clear.

They just care about their money. After Kid Rock decided to light some cases of Bud Light with an automatic rifle in protest of Dylan Mulvaney’s brand sponsorship, the company decided to pivot and do damage control rather than stand by their decision. Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said: “We never intended to engage in a discussion that divides people… our job is to bring people together over a beer.”

Sadly, Whitworth and numerous other CEOs are oblivious to the fact that anti-trans blacklash in this country is not part of a reasonable “discussion.” It’s simply targeted hate, and yes, the issues “divide” many Americans, but by pretending not to “choose sides,” Anheuser-Busch has tacitly bowed to that hate.

Target employees are seeing their company do the same.

In response to widespread conservative backlash against Traget’s Pride merchandise line, the company ordered much of the apparel removed from shelves. Although the company says this decision was made due to threats of violence against Target employees, it is likely that the root cause was falling stock prices. Experts have warned that Target’s actions will only embolden violent extremists, who will see the brand’s decision as proof that threats of violence work. However, many storefronts have moved away from selling Pride merchandise, leaving many items of clothing in the bins.

Most Target employees have been heartbroken by the brand’s lack of support towards the LGBTQ community, and many threads on Target employee subreddits are an outlet for grief. In a thread titled “Pride Fiasco 2023,” both queer and straight Target employees came together to lament the retailer’s decision to recall Pride merchandise and share their experiences at their specific store.

One employee was told their team would spend the day “taking all the pride out of the sales floor and putting it in the back” after already being told to move merchandise off the main displays and put it on “women’s display “. The employee claims he was “lied to” and was forced to “lie to his own team that they were all about swimwear sales in the first place.” The employee is likely referencing the adult swimwear line that caused outrage after conservatives claimed the suits were being marketed to children. The employee concluded his assignment by admonishing the company for a “complaint[ing] ally just to choose money just like everyone else.

Other disheartened Target employees responded quickly. “It freaks me out that people think most companies give a damn,” one user said following the original post. “Pride month is just free publicity and money for them, they don’t really care. It’s just to look good and people fall in love with hook and line and sinker.

Another user pointed out that even if the business motivations for selling pride merchandise are ultimately selfish, “it’s a fucking huge deal to be able to walk into a store and see a celebration of yourself. Having it just normalized is so, so important.

Another user was quick to call bullshit against the brand’s claim that threats of violence against employees were the main reason the company pulled Pride merchandise. “If Target were, for even a fraction of a second, actually concerned about our safety, they would step up security measures; bring in more security guards, develop a system so that lockers and lockers (or honestly, everyone all day long) always go in and out together, someone watches them from inside the building as they walk to/from their cars , etc.

It’s a fair point. If the target was actually interested in violence against queer employees, why not take steps to protect those employees rather than removing all traces of their identity from stores? “They prefer to appease people who probably never shopped on Target in the first place,” the post continued. “How about putting violent bigots at ease at Target will protect team members from violent bigots?”

If Target had decided to take a concrete stand against bigotry, it wouldn’t have been the first company to do so. The North Face has responded to the anti-Pride backlash from their customers by hiring drag queen Pattie Gonia as the face of their new ad campaign. “The North Face has always believed that the outdoors should be a welcoming, equitable and safe place for all,” said a company spokesperson. “We are honored and grateful to support partners like Pattie Gonia who help make this vision a reality. Building community and belonging in the outdoors is a core part of our values ​​and is needed now more than ever. We stand with those who support our vision of a more inclusive outdoor industry’”.

While conservative politicians such as Majorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebert have called for a boycott against The North Face, the company has remained undaunted in its support for the queer community. Sadly, it appears The North Face is the exception to a sad corporate rule. According to a Redditor on the thread, many of Target’s top HR executives are heartbroken by the company’s lack of backbone.

The user said the decision “physically pained our HR director. I witnessed a phone call with her and the rest of our group yesterday and watched her cry as we all told her how embarrassed and ashamed we were to be members of the Target team this week. I just want anyone reading this to know that it wasn’t the HR team (top to bottom) that really pushed for this, it was the finance team. The user then named Target CEO Brian Cornell, Vice President Michael Fiddelke, and Vice President and Head of Communications Katie Boylan as the real culprits for the decision.

There’s a silver lining to Target’s decision to pull Pride merchandise from its windows, but it’s subtle. According to one user, the company is procuring LGBTQ groups to accept donations of the recalled merchandise, meaning the clothing won’t go completely to waste. That’s hardly a consolation, however, as I can’t imagine any self-respecting queer person would be caught dying wearing clothes from a company that refuses to support the community in its hour of greatest need.

(featured image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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