Weeks after Target debuted its 2023 annual pride collection, one best described as a JoJo Siwa fever dream defined by inadvertent Shrek quotes, drag birds, and deranged slogans like “Live. Laugh. Lesbians,” the big box retailer has taken a sharp step back in showing their support for the LGBTQ+ community, yanking several items of the shelves amid conservative backlash.

“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday, May 23. ”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.”

Though the statement did not elaborate on which specific items would be pulled, several news outlets speculated that the retailer’s tuck-friendly swimsuit bottoms – ones designed for adults and not children contrary to several viral Twitter posts from last week – would be the first on the chopping block, per AP.

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As alluded to in their statement, Target’s decision to pull elements of the collection comes as several anti-LGBTQ+ protesters have taken to stores – and social media – to express their discontent with their latest offerings, the brunt of this anger often falling on the retail workers themselves.

“I was curious where the straight section is,” TikToker @CollenP911 sarcastically asked a seemingly unwitting employee in a clip shared to TikTok last week, later elaborating that she was searching for garments with slogans like “straight pride” or “hetero as heck.”

Meanwhile, creator @TwistedLuckTruth attempted to “gotcha” several store staffers with questions asking where he could find a version of his “Straight Pride” t-shirt – one he noted was not sold at Target – versus items in the store’s pride collection.

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“There was a time that if you walked into a store and asked a question like that they would have kicked you out and called the police,”  @TwistedLuckTruth concluded his clip, approaching the pride section.

As these videos, and others, began to go viral, several advocates began expressing their disappointment, questioning whether the retailer could have found better ways to navigate the widespread backlash.

“This is who @Target is caving to, deranged terrorists threatening to ‘hunt’ LGBTQ people,” wrote Twitter user @Esqueer_ alongside a clip depicting a man defacing a pride display.

“If @Target is worried that having Pride merch will threaten their employees “sense of safety and well-being while at work”, imagine how uncomfortable and hyper-vigilant actual LGBTQ+ people feel going out in public right now,” mused @BynIsTheWorst alongside a screengrab of an article detailing the company’s decision. “Everywhere. All the time.”

Where is our hero when you need her?

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