Pride Month is kicking off this June, and celebrations will be held worldwide for the LGBTQIA+ community. In London, the Pride parade will be held on the 1st of July from Hyde Park Corner to Whitehall Palace, with a predicted 30,000 participants marching. But unfortunately, in light of recent events, the celebrations have been tainted this year due to numerous boycotts against pro-LGBTQIA+ corporations. Conservatives have been bullying campaigns, so much so, that many Pride collections and advertisements have been threatened or retracted entirely, including the likes of major retailers such as Target and The North Face.
Across the pond in America, restrictions are creeping in too, such as the likes of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education laws, which prevents teachers from discussing “sexual orientation or gender identity” in schools. In the UK in 1988, the British Section 28 law was very similar, and “banned the promotion of homosexuality in the UK”. This was repealed in 2003, and the journey to standing in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community became one that is now celebrated each year in Pride, including in 2023. However, right now America bears an uncanny resemblance to previous legislation that prohibited LGBTQIA+ rights in Britain.
Social media has played a crucial role in promoting the agendas of conservative Christian Americans in banning Pride Month merchandise from being sold or even spoken about by big companies. We recently saw the beer brand Bud Light come under attack because transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney promoted it on their social media feed. Online users were videoing themselves destroying shelves in stores and pouring away the product. The parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev did not apologise for this reaction, but instead backtracked by saying that they never “intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.”
Most recently, Target has come under this conservative fire following a Pride display in their stores. Despite putting up rainbows and pro-LGBTQIA+ flags in their stores for over a decade, this year, the backlash was so severe that many boycotted the store entirely. Target was selling a Pride collection designed by trans creator Erik Carnell’s brand Abprallen. One of the t-shirts (not sold in Target, but for his personal brand) read ‘Satan respects pronouns’. The Conservative Political Action Coalition didn’t understand the tongue-in-cheek joke, and said that the company had hired “a Satanic designer in promoting demonic paraphernalia.”
The actual collection features t-shirts that read ‘Cure transphobia, not trans people’; with bags saying ‘Too queer for here’; and fanny packs stating ‘We belong here’. Backlash saw online users swapping Target for another chain Walmart (that also has a Pride collection), and spreading propaganda that their child’s swimsuit line was promoting ‘tuck-friendly’ bathing suits – which it was not. This boycott ended up going further than social media, and Target released a statement about their 2023 Pride collection: “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work.” The retailer then removed some of the merchandise in response to these threats.
The campaign to bully brands into removing their Pride stock is still happening. Last week, the LA Dodgers disinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (a drag charity group) from a Pride event due to the boycott of fans, but then reinvited them and apologised for giving into this hate scheme. The outdoor clothing company The North Face is the latest victim and has been said to be “preying” on children for offering kids merchandise in rainbow colours, as well as featuring a drag queen in a Pride advertisement. The company has spoken out and said it will be standing by the LGBTQIA+ community.
Big parts of the community are still under attack, and it is down to these big corporations to see past these bullying methods to stand by Pride Month and help move forward. It is no coincidence that right-wingers are choosing now to implement this agenda. With Pride Month and all the celebrations coming together in the next few weeks, there has never been a better time for both companies and the public to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community.