Missing the target at Target | GUEST COMMENTARY

Pride month merchandise is displayed at the front of a Target store in Hackensack, N.J., Wednesday, May 24, 2023. Target is removing certain items from some of its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month, after an intense backlash from some customers including violent confrontations with its workers. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Let me get this straight — tens of thousands of Americans are being murdered or gravely wounded every year between America’s nonstop urban gun violence epidemic and its ever-spreading rash of mass shootings — and yet certain conservatives are all up in arms over LGBTQ+ Pride merchandise at Target? Sorry to be shaking my head over here, but I don’t see how banning a rainbow swimsuit could ever be more important than banning assault rifles.

What a tragic mess this country is.


Have these MAGA-hatted conservatives ever once in their arsenal-amassing lives thought about protesting the fact that there are now more guns than people in this country? No, of course not.

As more and more of us are getting blown away with military-grade firepower (or wounded beyond recognition), have these anti-woke activists and influencers ever once thought to protest that courts and legislatures are rewarding criminals and psychopaths with fewer and fewer restrictions on gun ownership and use? Not a chance.


Are these self-important, far-right rabble-rousers even aware that the leading cause of death for teens and children in the United States is gun violence? Probably not.

Instead of protesting the needless and senseless murders of thousands of innocent Americans year in and year out with no end in sight, these ignorant and wackily belligerent crybabies are raising their voices and shaking their fists in protest against tiny little tank-top T-shirts with rainbow hearts on them and slogans like “Love is Love”?

Good Lord! Give me a break.

It’s not that people can’t have opinions. I have plenty of my own, as you might have guessed. It’s just that too many Americans are dying right now, and people who could instead join the rest of us in protest against something urgent like America’s nonstop gun violence, are squandering their energies on trivialities and petty prejudices.

I saw a dude on a YouTube video the other day harassing Target customers while holding up a kid-sized Pride T-shirt and pressuring them into agreeing with him that its very existence was tantamount to child abuse. Oh, come on; it simply is not. It’s just a colorful garment on sale for June’s Pride Month. The only abuse here was this dude abusing his cellphone by filming strangers who did not want to be filmed in the first place and trying to lasso them into his attempt at being the next big thing in conservative social media. He needs to leave those shoppers alone and find something more constructive to do with his time than gay bash his way to internet fame.

Besides, Target is doing something wholesomely American in reaching out to its LGBTQ+ consumers — making a buck. How unpatriotic of these rabid Republicans to stand in the way of capitalism. Obvious in their ire is the simple, undeniable fact that what they would really like is for all gay people, all trans people, all people who don’t look and act and think like them, to just go away.

Target is doing something wholesomely American in reaching out to its LGBTQ+ consumers — making a buck.

Sorry, buckaroos, but that’s not going to happen. America is a pluralistic society. Some might even say that’s its greatest asset. So man up, ya whining red-staters. Either embrace diversity or move to an island.

One reason I choose Target, in fact, is because of its yearly Pride-merchandise display. Even though I’ve never spent as much as a dime on a rainbow-themed coffee mug or doodad there (sorry, Bullseye), it’s just nice to know that, as a gay man, Target welcomes me with open arms (and ka-chinging cash registers).


Standing in line yesterday at my local Target, I checked to see if their front-of-store Pride display was intact and had not been vandalized by far-right hooligans or moved to a more discreet location in the store to discourage controversy. But, no, it proudly remained front and center at the Boston Street location — so bright I could have used a pair of sunglasses to view it.

I thought the rainbowed-colored checkerboard sun dress was spot on — sophisticated, fresh, and definitely wearable all summer. But what really caught my eye was a little black T-shirt with an iron-on rainbow and a slogan so scandalous that I was surprised it had not been pulled from the collection in an attempt to appease the haters.

“Be kind,” it said.

How radical.

Louis Balsamo ( is a freelance writer.