Trans artist gets death threats as Target pulls LGBTQ+ collection

·4-min read

A London fashion designer is being targeted with death threats after his Pride collection with US retail giants Target sparked a violent backlash from customers.

A campaign to boycott the shop saw customers film themselves ripping down Pride displays before stomping on them and calling the range “disgusting”.

Now the superstore has announced they will be removing LGBTQ+ merchandise across the US ahead of Pride month, after violent confrontations with its workers.

Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company including a jumper with the slogan ‘Cure Transphobia Not Trans People’ and a tote bag with a rainbow-coloured UFO reading ‘Too Queer for Here’ have been pulled.

Fox News labelled the designer behind the brand, Eric Carnell, an “outspoken Satanist” whose work features “occult imagery and messages like ‘Satan respects pronouns’ on brand apparel”.

Carnell denied he was a Satanist but revealed he had received record numbers for sales on his website since the controversy erupted.

In an Instagram Story, he said: “It’s odd that so many Christians have sent me death threats and detailed descriptions of the violence they would enact on me or on the suffering they hope I would experience.

“Does it not say in Corinthians that God alone should be the one to pass judgement, especially on non-believers?

“I have no intention to stop what I’m doing. The passion you have is admirable but it’s misplaced and wasted. I’ve been told I’m going to hell since I was 11.”

The artist added that he “lacked the drive” to be part of any religion and also had no desire to “make children gay”.

Carnell continued: “It is unfortunate that the religious right have as much power as they do, but it will not last.

“Somehow the religious right have twisted the narrative so much that they have themselves convinced I was, via Target, selling my entire brand’s collection to children specifically. This was never the case...

“I have no desire to sell or market my work to children. They don’t have money, for one thing.”

He also hit out at violent threats and hatred aimed at Target staff “who have no say whatsoever in the items Target carries”.

The Pride collection on sale at Target (Instagram)
The Pride collection on sale at Target (Instagram)

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

“Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the centre of the most significant confrontational behaviour.”

Among the items attracting the most hate was a “tuck-friendly” women’s swimsuit that is said to allow trans women to conceal their private parts and a pink crop-top with a ‘Live Laugh Lesbian’ slogan.

Other items include a coffee mug that says “gender fluid”; rainbow outfits for pets; a Drag Queen Bird Decorative Figurine; a jumpsuit that says “GAY” and a T-shirt with an illustration of a skeleton bending its wrist saying: “Is he … you know?”

The superstore said it was forced to move Pride display collections to the back of the shop in some southern stores after being accused of caving to the demands of homophobic mobs.

Target declined to say which items it was removing from its stores.

The Pride month collection has also been the subject of several misleading videos in recent weeks, with social media users falsely claiming the retailer is selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits designed for kids, or in kids’ sizes.

Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert tweeted on Monday that Target “won’t be getting another dollar” from her, accusing it of being a “woke” corporation.

California Governor Gavin Newsom criticised Target for bowing to pressure from the right wing.

“CEO of Target Brian Cornell selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists is a real profile in courage,” Newsom tweeted on Tuesday.

The moves come as beer brand Bud Light is still grappling with a backlash from some customers angered by its attempt to broaden its purchasing base by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Bud Light’s parent company said it will triple its marketing spending in the US this summer as it tries to restore sales it lost after the brand partnered with Mulvaney.

Target and other retailers including Walmart and H&M have been expanding their LGBTQ+ displays to celebrate Pride month for roughly a decade.

This year transgender issues – including gender-affirming healthcare and participation in sports – have been a highly divisive topic within US politics.