© Mike Mozart via Flickr

The CEO of Target has doubled down on removing Pride merchandise earlier this year.

Back in May, the popular US-based retailer was targeted by conservative individuals for selling trans-inclusive Pride Month merchandise.

Due to the backlash – which included bomb threats, boycotts, and some of their employees facing violent threats from right-wing customers – Target removed a handful of pieces from the line.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work … 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,” a Target spokesperson told The Daily Beast. 

Due to Target’s controversial move, the retailer also received backlash from LGBTQIA+ activists and an array of public figures for giving in to conservative backlash. 

In a recent interview with CNBC, the CEO of the popular retailer, Brian Cornell, gave further insight into the situation and what led him to remove the merchandise. 

“I’ve seen natural disasters. We’ve seen the impact of Covid leading into the pandemic. Some of the violence that took place after George Floyd’s murder,” he said. 

“But I will tell you, what I saw back in May is the first time since I’ve been in this job where I had store team members saying, ‘It’s not safe to come to work.” 

While Cornell knew his decision would spark more pushback, he explained that it was done to protect his employees.

LGBT Pride merchandise at a Target store in Washington DC via Flickr

“We had to prioritise the safety of our teams. And I knew personally this was not gonna be well received. But we had to prioritise the safety of the team,” he explained. 

Target wasn’t the only company to face conservative backlash for its LGBTQIA+ inclusive campaigns. 

Back in April, trans TikToker Dylan Mulvaney took to her Instagram to promote Bud Light’s March Madness contest whilst simultaneously celebrating her first year living as a woman.

While many of her fans celebrated the wholesome partnership, conservative individuals and some Republican public figures announced their boycott of the popular beer while spewing harmful anti-trans rhetoric towards the young influencer.

In May, North Face encountered a similar situation after the company announced its Summer of Pride event on Instagram with the help of drag artist Pattie Gonia. 

However, despite facing unwarranted and diluted critiques from conservative customers, the brand doubled down on its Pride Month campaign and their LGBTQ+ allyship in a statement. 

“The North Face has always believed the outdoors should be a welcoming, equitable and safe place for all. We are honored and grateful to support partners like Pattie Gonia who help make this vision a reality,” a spokesperson for North Face told Newsweek.

Check out Cornell’s full interview below.