100+ Organizations Call on Corporate America to Stand Firm with the LGBTQ+ Community
Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.
A coalition of more than 100 equality organizations and other groups has called on corporate America to stand with the LGBTQ+ community this Pride season, despite extremist threats.
The Human Rights Campaign issued a press release announcing the coalition's efforts to encourage LGBTQ+-friendly brands not to buckle under calls for boycotts – and even threats of violence – that have been issued by a small, but vocal, cadre of anti-LGBTQ+ activists.
The release detailed that "the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), GLAAD, GLSEN, Family Equality, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights and National Black Justice Coalition, in partnership with more than 100 organizations, renewed their call for Target and the business community to reject and speak out against anti-LGBTQ+ extremism going into Pride Month."
The coalition stated, "Recent pushback against businesses such as Anheuser-Busch and Target, blatantly organized by extremist groups, serves as a wake up call for all businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community."
"We've seen this extremist playbook of attacks before," the statement noted. "Their goal is clear: to prevent LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation, silence our allies and make our community invisible. These attacks fuel hate against LGBTQ+ people, just as we've seen this year with more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that restrict basic freedoms and aim to erase LGBTQ+ people."
As CNN reported, "conservatives are waging a ferocious war on companies that express support for the LGBTQ community, with hostilities against the celebration of gay rights swelling to levels not seen in many years."
CNN's analysis went on to add, "The attacks have put companies in the uncomfortable position of standing up for the values of their own employees and the public writ large against a relentless volley of threats of mass boycotts, lost revenue, and ultimately, long-term brand harm.
"With each offensive – and claimed victories – the activists wielding the pitchforks have become more emboldened and the business atmosphere more chilled."
And also more charged with the threat of violence. Threats against Target workers prompted some of the chain's stores to remove certain Pride items and relocated Pride-themed displays to the back.
Meantime, some conservatives declaring a boycott against Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light beer due to the brand partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted disturbing videos in which cases of the brew were machine gunned or cans of Bud Light bashed with a baseball bat.
"Extremist attacks and harassment of businesses for standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and values of diversity, equity and inclusion have challenged Target, and businesses more broadly, to lead – to demonstrate they mean what they say when investing in and standing with LGBTQ+ people, creatives, and organizations," the coalition's statement acknowledged.
But, the coalition asserted, when "values of diversity, equity and inclusion are tested, businesses must defend them unequivocally."
The push against the corporate acknowledgement of, marketing to, and backing of the LGBTQ+ sector of the market was summarized by one prominent anti-gay personality, Matt Walsh, as a crusade engineered to make Pride "toxic" to corporate America.
In a tweet, Walsh stated openly that "The goal is to make 'pride' toxic for brands." The tweet went on to boast: "First Bud Light and now Target. Our campaign is making progress. Let's keep it going."
In fact, CNN warned, "with Pride Month about to get underway, and more brands showing their support for the LGBTQ community, expect more fronts to open up. As the right-wing media personalities leading this campaign have said: Bud Light and Target were just the beginning."
Will America's brands remain inclusive despite astroturfed calls for boycotts and overt threats of violence from anti-LGTBQ+ extremists? This Pride season, like none before it, might reveal in no uncertain terms who our true allies are – and who's simply been pinkwashing.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.