Why I’m Not Boycotting Target

By Tom Gilson Published on May 30, 2023

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Target stores, which put “Pride” garishly on display several days ago, got hit hard by a boycott over it. The market value of the company dropped $9 billion last week. As for me, I’ve decided I’m not boycotting them. I’m also not associating with them. At all. For a long time to come. That includes not shopping there.

Sounds like a boycott, you say? Of course it does. And if you’ve decided to boycott them, I support you in it. There’s a big difference in my mind, though. A boycott is an economic power maneuver, meant to force a company to change its mind or at least its policies. Target has already changed its policies, or so I’m told: The display is gone, or at least moved away from the front door. The boycott has already had some effect, in other words.

That’s well and good, as far as it goes. It doesn’t change what they revealed about themselves, though. They sold products designed by a woman appearing as if a man, who also designed a pastel pin with the words “homophobe headrest,” and a drawing of a guillotine. And a sweet little heart to go with it. Maybe she meant it as a joke? Sorry, but no. I can’t view it that charitably. With the kind of anger gay activists routinely aim at conservatives, there’s no room for that kind of “joking.”

Too Close to a Call for Genocide

Target supported an artist who’s issued a call to murder people like me. I won’t associate with a company that would do that. I wouldn’t associate with them if they were that closely connected with a call to kill any group of people. Carry it out for real, and it’s called genocide.

I reject the label “homophobe”: It’s misleading and tendentious, coldly and falsely calculated to raise disgust and scorn toward people who disagree with same-sex marriage, transgenderism, and all that goes with it. My disagreement isn’t motivated by fear or by aversion, but by factual considerations drawn from social, biblical, and natural-law realities.

Still I know that I am one of the many for whom that pin called for ritual decapitation. That is intensely, supremely, massively wrong. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter how well or poorly the label fits. I’m sure some people really are phobic toward homosexuality. To call for their execution is brutally, insanely wrong, too.

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I wouldn’t sit across the table at Starbucks with anyone who wanted to chop my head off. I wouldn’t sit with someone who thought I was taking it way too seriously — especially knowing how much anger there was behind the “joke.” Neither would I sit there with someone who said, “I don’t actually want that to happen myself, but if someone else is calling for it, I’ll support them any way I can.”

That’s what Target did. It’s a huge company, so it had to have been a massive account for this designer. She was set to make loads of money through them. She ought to be under investigation for inciting violence instead.

No Associating With People of That Character

That’s not the only morally execrable thing Target has done with its “Pride” displays, but for me it’s enough on its own to put them over the line. How far over? Far enough to bring the word genocide into the picture. Far enough, in other words. 

Is it forgivable? Sure: If Target publishes a statement acknowledging, regretting, and rejecting the wrong they have done. It would have to include an unmistakably clear welcome to those of us who don’t agree with activist LGBT (“Let’s Go Bully Them”) strong-arm tactics or the rest of their agenda. I’m talking full public repentance here. I’d be glad to go back there under those conditions.

Otherwise I’m staying clear. Again, for me, it’s not about putting economic or political pressure on Target’s business. They can buckle to pressure and change their practices in an instant. They have in fact done so — somewhat. That impresses me like it would if the guy at Starbucks said, “Okay, I’ll quit saying it out loud. That solves it, right? What’s your problem, anyway?” The problem hasn’t changed one bit: the man’s character. It’s exactly the same with Target.

I don’t avoid everyone with character problems. I’d have to keep away from myself, if that were my standard.  Target crossed the line, though, with its support for a woman who is cheerfully inciting deadly violence. Maybe if I’d seen more of their “Pride” product, I’d say they crossed the line with that, too. I don’t need to see it, though. I know plenty already.

It’s about character. I don’t hang around with people like that, and I won’t associate with a store like that, either.

Update: I originally wrote that the designer/artist was a man, but was informed after publication that she is a woman identifying as a man. I have made corrections accordingly.


Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.

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