Summary List Placement
Pride Month is just a few weeks away, which means it’s time for stores to stock up on rainbow tees, bandanas, dog outfits, candles, and even bottles of Pride-themed Absolut Vodka. Now, TikTok users are taking to the platform to rate Pride merchandise from stores like Target, Hot Topic, and Walmart.
Multiple videos making fun of this trend have recently gone viral ahead of Pride Month in June, amassing hundreds of thousands of likes, with users going through Pride collection items one by one and assigning them different ratings.
Items range from a T-shirt that lists nametags with he/him, she/her, and they/them pronouns, along with a tag that reads “ask me”; a “rainbow swirl” candle; a sheer rainbow skirt; and a pink tank top that reads, “hey ladies,” in a color gradient of the lesbian pride flag.
Many of the videos are critiques of a phenomenon called “rainbow capitalism,” the notion that corporations earn both money and social capital from selling LGBTQ-themed merchandise.
“I’m gonna show you guys some of Target’s Pride collection. Don’t get your hopes up, it like lowkey sucks,” TikTok user @sfram1218, who frequently posts videos about being a lesbian, said in the intro to one of her several videos dissecting the items in the collection.
Many of the videos rating Pride collections focus on Target’s offerings, which the brand rolls out annually. The company’s Pride collection website page currently lists nearly 250 items.
Some critics focused on the aesthetics of the collection. One user, @dinonuggets.jpg, called a striped rainbow button-down “so ugly it stops being gay and swings around to being aggressively heterosexual.”
Several users have also critiqued a shirt that has multiple sets of pronouns on it, which is listed on the Target website as a “Pride Gender Inclusive Adult ‘Pronouns’ Short Sleeve Graphic T-Shirt.” Though many people use multiple sets of pronouns, the shirt — which includes she/her, he/him, and they/them pronouns — doesn’t seem intended to be a declaration of the wearer’s pronouns.
“I understand what they were going for here and that’s cool, but I feel like this is an invitation for ‘allies’ to misgender you on accident,” TikTok user @calebbbro said about the shirt in a video.
Target said in a 2020 news post on its website that the Pride collection was developed by its merchandising team in conjunction with the company’s Pride+ Business Council. In the same post, Target said that it had donated $100,000 to GLSEN, an organization that works to ensure supportive, safe experiences for LGBTQ students, in honor of Pride 2020. The company said it also did so in 2019.
TikTok users have also brought other companies’ Pride collections into the fold, including merchandise shown on Hot Topic and Walmart’s websites.
The notion of Pride being a “branded holiday,” as Vox Senior Correspondent Alex Abad-Santos reported on in 2018, isn’t new. As support for LGBTQ people continues to grow, so too does the incentive for corporations and brands to publicly brand themselves as supportive of the community — regardless of the actions that they’re taking behind the scenes to actually support LGBTQ people.
Even when money does go to LGBTQ organizations through Pride month merchandise or campaigns, Abad-Santos wrote, this branding can foster a culture of “slacktivisim,” where companies — and consumers — can show support without necessarily make their own tangible impact.
Target did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.