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Designer Says Target 'Hasn't Tried To Contact Me Once' After Pulling Pride Designs From Shelves

U.K.-based Abprallen designer Erik Carnell says he's 'very, very, very low priority' for Target as they face backlash from conservatives over their LGBTQ+ Pride merchandise.

Erik Carnell with Abprallen merchandise

On Tuesday, retail giant Target confirmed it would be making changes to this year's Pride collection, including moving many LGBTQ+ merchandise displays to the back of the store in many southern states.

According to one designer who was highly anticipating the inclusion of his merchandise in the Pride month displays, some items were moved off the floor—and the store's website—completely.

Queer artist and Abprallen designer Erik Carnell was commission to design items—a sweatshirt, bag and fanny pack—for Target's 2023 Pride collection...

... but he began to worry when he noticed negative online activity.

First, his items were being review-bombed by conservatives who were giving products one-star reviews. Then, he noticed his items were being removed from the website altogether.

Carnell revealed Target "hasn't even tried to contact me once."

In a statement released by Target, the decision to move merchandise was based on the safety of employees, the company claiming this year workers have been faced with threats.

The statement read:

"For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month."
"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."
"Our focus is now on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year."

Carnell understands Target's stance on employee safety but also thinks they could have been more proactive.

And they certainly should have communicated changes to design partners.

“Every so often, one or two or my products would be taken down from the website, or the link to my brand page… with no explanation or communication.”
“I think it was anticipated that there would be pushback, I don’t think anybody anticipated that it would be quite this extreme.”
“I think with Target, it’s very much a case of everyone scrambling to do what they think is the best thing for the next five minutes."
“I don’t think they have a plan for what they’re going to do going ahead with the rest of this collection."
“They’ve already taken down a number of Pride displays, mostly in the south, or moved into different areas [of the stores], instructing their employees to do this in the space of five or six hours.”

Carnell again emphasized he realizes Target's concern is for the safety of their employees.

“If I lived in a country where gun violence was as prevalent as in American and I owned a corporation like Target, I might also do what they’re doing.”

Many videos on social media show conservatives destroying Pride displays and badgering customers and employees alike.

WARNING: NSFW language

With that in mind, however, Carnell thinks big companies like Target need to take a stand with the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think that, with the current political climate in America, huge companies like Target absolutely need to take a very clear stand on how they feel about LGBTQ+ people. Walmart has a Pride collection as well, but that hasn’t seemed to receive any negative press.”

And people on social media agree.

Of course, some think it's fair of Target to make adjustments based on employee safety.

Carnell drove his message home:

“Ensuring trans people, particularly trans people of color are looked after and cared for, making sure that local queer clubs, bars, cafes are getting the funding that they need, I think that’s far more important right now.”