Target plans to limit Pride merchandise again this year

Pride merchandise on display at a Target store in Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York, in May of 2023.
Pride merchandise on display at a Target store in Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, New York, in May of 2023.
Duncan Osborne

One year after Target scrambled to remove Pride merchandise in response to threats from right wing groups and individuals, the retail giant is again restricting LGBTQ-themed products in stores this year.

Target will sell Pride merchandise in select stores based on product performance and feedback, according to a fact sheet posted on the Target website. Target will, however, still sell all of its Pride merchandise online.

“We’re offering a collection of products including adult apparel and home and food and beverage items, curated based on consumer feedback,” Target said in the fact sheet. “The collection will be available on and in select stores, based on historical sales performance.”

The fact sheet, posted on May 9, was labeled as an announcement of Target’s Pride plans for this year, which range from internal events and experiences for staff to LGBTQ-related apparel in stores and online. The latest announcement came one year after videos circulated on social media showing anti-LGBTQ individuals knocking down Pride displays and stomping on them in fits of hateful rage, sparking concern over the safety of employees in the stores.

At the time, Target posted a statement on its website saying threats to employees forced the store to make “adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.” Several LGBTQ groups — including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National Black Justice Coalition — quickly condemned the move last year and called on Target to restock the products in stores.

Target did not announce a breakdown of stores slated to carry the Pride merchandise this year. Employees at multiple Target locations around the city — including the Brooklyn Midwood Target — did not know of any plans for Pride merchandise when reached by phone on May 13, but a store worker who answered the phone at Brooklyn Flatbush and Church Target at 2101 Church Ave. told Gay City News they were “pretty sure we will have it” this year.

A representative at the Times Square 42nd St. Target told Gay City News that the midtown location did not have plans to carry Pride products, but that the Tribeca, Columbus Circle, and 86th St./Lexington locations would carry Pride merchandise this year. Representatives at Target stores predicted that the Pride merchandise would reach shelves at the end of May.

That timeline is consistent with a notice on Target’s online store, which features a “PRIDE” section with a banner announcing that new arrivals of Pride products would be available on May 28. There are 42 Pride-related products currently available online — mostly consisting of pet-based products like dog apparel and collars — but there are also other products such as a Rainbow-colored Apple Watch loop, a Rainbow gift card, and a Rainbow flash drive.

Target’s corporate press office did not respond to multiple calls and an email on May 13 seeking comment about the changes and clarification about which stores would be carrying the Pride products.