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Target's annual rainbow-wash kinda fun, actually

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Photos courtesy of Target
Photos courtesy of Target

The month of May for many people is a time of warmer weather and the end of a school year, but for big companies like Target, it is time to take advantage of rainbow capitalism.

In preparation for June, aka Pride month, Target released its Pride collection, and many people don't know how to feel about it.

The collection includes items such as clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes, party supplies, home goods, outdoor items, stationary, and even gear for Queer pets. In the past, the company has designed most of its Pride items in-house, but this year it has partnered with Queer artists and outsourced companies for around 95% of its merchandise. Some notable Queer artists included in this collection are the 2022 Skittles collaborators Ash + Chess and JZD, "a lifestyle brand for the Latina queens."

This move however, has not stopped the internet from creating memes about Target-brand Pride merchandise. Some that have been the target include a cropped shirt that says "live, laugh, lesbian," a bright green boiler suit with the word "gay" written in big letters on the back, a figurine of a bird dressed like a drag queen, and a mug with the words "gender fluid" written on the side.

According to Target's website, a fair number of the products created for the Pride line have been imported from other countries. It is unclear which they are from and whether they are Queer friendly.

When the SGN went to Target to examine the Pride selection, there was also a rogue Funko Pop collectible of Mirabel from the film Encanto. The store also sells Chick-fil-A sauce. It's safe to say shoppers can leave the store with items for any type of lifestyle.

Target's history with the Queer community
Target's relationship with the Queer community has been an interesting one. In 2010, the company made a $150,000 donation to an anti-LGBTQ+ political group, which led to a boycott until the CEO apologized for the donation.

Despite a pledge in 2011 that Target would not become involved in the Gay marriage debate, in 2012 it released T-shirts and greeting cards with a pro—marriage equality message in an attempt to add more diversity and inclusion in its stores.

In 2014 Target took an official stance in support of Gay marriage by signing an amicus brief in two court cases, which led to a boycott of the company by conservatives.

In 2015, the same year same-sex marriage was legalized nationally, Target released its ironically polarizing Pride Month collection. In a blog post regarding the collection, it stated, "We're not born with pride. We take pride. Pride in celebrating who we were born to be. Those are the powerful words we at Target want all guests and team members — of every size, color, gender and sexual orientation — to hear as we head into Pride month this week.

"But let us be clear: to Target, pride doesn't just start and end in June — it is a year-round commitment. And this year, we're going all out, supporting Pride parades, events and merchandise." Since 2015, Target has made the Pride collection annually and has been vocal in its support of the Queer community by participating in Pride parades nationwide.

Photos courtesy of Target  

Should people buy their Pride merchandise from Target?
There are many people who do not support the collection, because of opposition to rainbow capitalism. According to a 2021 post to the site LGBTQ and ALL, "rainbow capitalism, aka pink capitalism, is the action of companies claiming to support LGBTQ+ causes and communities, but [which] are actually making merchandise for profit and capitalize on the trend.

"In other words, it centers ...corporate interests and profit. As a result, instead of LGBTQ+ issues being at the forefront of Pride events, it is actually capitalism."

According to a 2023 Target corporate blog post, the company made $109 billion in 2022. A 2015 Forbes article indicates that Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target, made $28.2 million in 2014, while his employees earned around $30,000 that year.

There are several Queer Seattle-based artists and companies that make their own Pride merchandise as well. Some examples are Seattle Pride, Choke Shirt Company, and Dual Wield Studio, among countless others.

In the end it is up to the consumer to choose the ways they shop, but keep in mind where money goes and whom you want to support.