Target Really Wants Gay People to Hate Them, Despite Solid Stock of Cute Boyshorts

Target’s higher-ups continue to ruin our lives by making it unethical to shop in their stores, even though their underpants are super cute. The latest involves a California gay advocacy group called Canvass for a Cause, which has been lobbying in support of gay marriage outside some of Target’s San Diego Stores. Now Target is suing them to cut it out. According to ABC News, Target wants to preserve a “distraction-free shopping experience” and has consistently taken legal action against groups which infringe on that experience, regardless of their viewpoint or affiliation. (The only lawsuits filed by Target that we can find records of involve things like K-Mart for deceptive advertising and a blogger for leaking company shoplifting policies).

This is what the company said:

In response to feedback from many guests, Target long ago established a solicitation policy at our stores nationwide. We do not permit solicitation or petitioning at our stores regardless of the cause or issue being represented.”

Canvass for a Cause lawyers say that store fronts and shopping centers are part of the “public square,” where free speech ought to be protected. Canvass for a Cause executive director Tres Watson:

“You’ve seen activists like us at almost every store in the country. Twenty-somethings in t-shirts with clipboards, saying ‘Hey, do you support gay marriage?’ And when people say no, we say, ‘Well do you want to talk about it? Target is alleging that our people are angry, militant, homosexual activists. But if you think through it logically, there’s nothing [that] supports our cause [by] acting that way, and we don’t.”

On Perez Hilton, Tres Watson is quoted as saying:

It’s very David vs. Goliath. We understand they’re the Goliath in the room. They’ve got all money in world to get us to stop talking about gay marriage. We train our staff and volunteers very carefully in techniques in winning people over. When you’re trying to persuade voters and reach out to the community with a message, there is no advantage to being aggressive.”

The San Diego County Superior Court judge heard arguments yesterday and will issue a ruling on the restraining order late next week.

Target was already in hot water with the gay community because last year Target donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a political action committee which supported the (ultimately failed) run of anti-gay candidate Tom Emmer for Minnesota Governor. According to Q Salt Lake, the subsequent boycotts did inspire change:

The donations did not go unnoticed to many gay-rights activists and many activists started Target boycotts nation-wide. The new policy for political contributions requires a committee to guide political donation suggestions for the company. The committee will balance business interests with other considerations for employees and customers. Gay-rights activists are claiming the boycotts a success with these policy changes.

But an investigative piece from The Awl in December revealed that Target continued donating to anti-gay politicians all over the country and in fact nothing had changed.  In 2009 and 2010, Target scored a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Index for sponsoring pride events, offering domestic partner benefits and non-discriminatory hiring practices, among other things. The 2011 Index notes that Target and Best Buy both lost points this year — “penalized under Criterion 6 for a large-scale public blemish to their recent records, namely, for failing to take any corrective action in response to significant community concerns.”

Then! Earlier this year, Lady Gaga and Target made a deal — Gaga would give Target exclusive rights to sell the deluxe edition [bonus songs + remixes] of Born This Way and Target would try to dig deep in their pockets and give more than just 2% of it’s millions of dollars worth of charity donations to LGBT resources.

Ultimately Target “refused to promise that it would never donate to political groups or politicians believed to be anti-gay.” So Lady Gaga dissolved their relationship. This put us all in a very difficult position because Wal-Mart is essentially The Evil Empire to a degree no other retailer even begins to, shopping at K-Mart is like stepping inside a giant screaming diaper, and Target sells really cute boyshorts.



Target’s Giving Tree


It’s also worth mentioning that Target is one of the largest sponsors of LGBT events around Minnesota including Twin Cities Pride and the Minnesota AIDS Walk. Target also sponsors free and pay-what-you-can nights at art museums around the country including The Museum of Modern Art (the hipsters line up for miles, as traditional admission tops $20) and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In fact, Target is one of the most philanthropic companies in the US, ranking #22 in Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list in 2010. Target gives over $3 million a week including $150 million to schools across the U.S.. They created the Target House complex in Tennessee, which provides long-term housing for families at of patients at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It’s ranked as the highest-cash giving company in America w/r/t percentage of income given (2.1%).

Now, here’s a breakdown of Target’s political donations via

Compare that to Wal-Mart…

Target does enforce a standard no-solicitation rule at its properties in order to provide aforementioned “distraction-free shopping experience.” It made an exception to this policy in 2004, allowing Salvation Army red kettles and bell-ringers. Then Target changed its mind and  asked the organization to “explore alternate methods to partner with Target.” Target donated to local Salvation Army chapters via the United Way of America and in 2005, Target and the Salvation Army and, among other Salvation Army related charitable efforts, created the Target/Salvation Army Wish List, which enabled online shoppers to buy gifts for Hurricane victims. Target also refused to let Toys for Tots solicit toys in their stores.

So, if Target doesn’t even want The Salvation Army outside of its stores, can we expect them to accept pro-gay marriage groups? Is a shopping center “the public square”? Maybe Target should consider developing a special partnership with pro-gay marriage groups as a compromise? It does sponsor PFLAG Minnesota and Twin Cities Pride — maybe that effort is worth an expansion?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3211 articles for us.


  1. Cool article! Really takes a solid look at the common understanding and turns it on its head. Especially the part about the boyshort underwear…it IS so cute, argh…

  2. Team members can’t ask friends/colleagues for donation pledges because of the “no solicitation” policy, if that gives you an indication of how serious they are about this…across the board. No soliciting. Period.

    *disclaimer: I am a Target team member

    • Erm… while at Target, I mean. Not like…ever. Over dinner, cocktails, sure. A movie, even. *ahem* Carry on.

    • Oh Christ you used the term “team member.” They’ve sucked you in. (I worked at Target and I HATED that).

      but re: boyshorts, one of my coworkers and I each kept buying the same undies…they had so many boyshorts. :( I’ve since switched to boxer briefs which do not ride up my ass, but I still have fond memories of days at work when we would chat and eventually discover that we were wearing the same underwear.

      • Real story: Store manger wandered all over the boys section looking for something. Team member (heh) asks what he’s looking for and he replies: “Boy shorts. There’s a price comparison report and I can’t find what boy shorts they’re talking about!” After much consternation and attempts not to laugh in his face said team member escorted him to the women’s lingerie section.

        • Funny story…sounds like something in a Simpsons episode.

          All this talk of boyshorts led me to the autostraddle hot girls in boyshorts gallery. Wow. Looks like the definitive collection of hot girls in boyshorts.

          Now my significant contribution to the blog: did any of those girls buy their boyshorts at Target?

    • autostraddle “employees” (volunteers) are also referred to as “team members” sidenote.

      when i was a teenager target was involved with this thing called the “do something” project? it was run by like, andrew shue (sp?) and you could propose your community service project for a grant. i used to get applications there and fill them out for funsies with my imaginary projects.

      i do feel like target has been shitty to the gays w/r/t those donations, and in some way feel like w/r/t this specific issue — target might have a real non-partisan point. which distracts from the more important issue which as, as aforementioned, donating to the anti-gay candidates

  3. As an employee of Walmart that chart makes me ill….I was already looking for a new job but I gotta step it up I gotta get out of there. *shudders*

  4. I mean, I’m glad to see that, all said and done, Target is MOSTLY fair and balanced, etc etc.

    That said, I still refuse to shop there because it’s, like, six avenues away and I’m too lazy to walk that far.

  5. i literally just came back from target and bought the cutest flannel shirt (well, i stopped at home depot because i <3 lesbian stereotypes), and now i feel even more guilty.

  6. Spoiled brats. If Planned Parenthood has to put up with despicable people holding signs making accusations of murder, I would think Target could suck it up too.


    • My thoughts exactly.

      Also, I’m curious which ballot measure(s) they threw so much money at in 2004/5…

      • i thought so too but that’s america. seriously all the corporations are funneling HEAPS of money into various measures, including most prominently the health care bills that would require corporations to pony up for uninsured employees.

        i mean, if you own a certain percentage of america’s capitalist properties, you can buy the vote. this is how our country works. unfortunately. i wish more people knew that — that it’s never really about the people — it’s about what companies have the cash to basically be a part of he government . USA! WHEEEEEEE

    • Yeah, it would be nice if corporations weren’t people. Thanks for nothin’, supreme court.

  8. Is anyone else annoyed at how much emphasis that group is putting on marriage rights? I mean, they’re important as hell (and I would love to be able to make my marriage legal in the eyes of my state/country), but there are so many other threats to queer rights!

  9. Corporate sponsorships of events are almost always meaningless. It’s nothing more than an advertisement to them. They’re just trying to get more customers. They don’t care what a customer’s sexual orientation is, or religion or if they’re a member of the KKK.

    That Target sponsors gay pride says nada about how they feel about gays other than they believe gays have money to spend. And because Target is just a bit pricier than Wal-Mart, Target is targeting a demographic that is willing to pay a little bit more for no other reason than they think Wal-Mart and K-Mart aren’t cool.

    It makes total sense that Target donates to schools given that poor kids that show up to school in K-Mart clothes have a higher probability of getting bullied.

    Ah, the intersection of consumerism and class warfare. Time for a Flobots break:

  10. I love, love target and hate their anti-gay politics. It puts me in such a pickle. When they brought back their best-selling designer collaboration pieces in March I didn’t go because of the recent donations out cry and it hurt. This was a great, thorough breakdown of Target’s donations but I’m left feeling even more torn. On one hand, most of their charity work is admirable and worthy of support. On the other hand, I believe any significant contributions to anti-gay politicians are unacceptable.
    It would be a far easier issue if they were just blatantly evil like Wal-Mart. After reading this article and others about the issue I’m left feeling that Target is more than anything a shade of grey.

  11. I don’t know, maybe I am too cynical for my tender age of 20, but I assume that most corporations will disappoint me one way or another since they are motivated by profit and this usually means courting the average – middle of the road – demographic.

    There certainly are better companies than others and maybe its a little comforting that Target donates more evenly than Walmart but, as has already been pointed out, maybe they shouldn’t be trying to buy influence at all.

    Short of living on a commune and growing all my food and weaving my clothes from lambs wool – which at one level is very appealing – just came in from planting 50 tomato plants in my veg garden – I figure I will likely be disappointed in any company I choose to give my business to.

    Autostraddle – could you please start a commune….I scrub floors for food…..

  12. Hi, thanks. Yeah, was kind of funny, I started about 100 tomato plants indoors about 2 months ago. Set up some tall metal shelving in my bathroom close to the fluorescent lights, essentially turning my bathroom into a greenhouse. I had some work done about 3 weeks ago and was afraid the workers were going to think I was growing pot in my bathroom! It certainly looked like it.

    Weather is perfect now for bringing them into the garden so, 50 this weekend and 50 next.

    • That’s funny, I have a similar set-up at my house. I’m itching to set some plants out, but temps. are only in the 30s here. Hope you have a bountiful growing season!

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