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Target and Starbucks Pull Back in Response To Pressure By Anti-LGBTQ Forces

June is Pride Month. It honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York, which galvanized political activism in support of gay rights. For many years, U.S. companies have publicly supported Pride Month with flags, merchandise, and other visible means. This year anti-LGBTQ conservatives have ratcheted up the pressure against this support. 

Target became the object of such pressure. Anti-LGBTQ groups voiced opposition to the company for selling "tuck-friendly" women's swimsuits that allow trans adult women to hide their genitalia. Videos published online show people taking Pride flags in Target stores and throwing them on the floor. In response, Target removed some Pride products. The company statement said, "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.”

The New York Times reported Starbucks is also pulling back on its Pride displays. An employee union says Starbucks told its workers in 21 states not to decorate for Pride Month. New York stores are also displaying much quieter support than usual. One employee in Ohio reported a manager telling him to take down a Pride flag because "it was not inclusive for everyone." The union criticized the company for not supporting LGBTQ workers when many politicians are pushing legislation to roll back their rights. Starbucks told The New York Times that local store leaders choose how a store looks within company guidelines and said it had not received any credible threats against its stores or staff members. In the past, Starbucks distributed Pride pins for employees to wear but not this year. However, Pride-themed cups and tumblers are available for purchase in stores.