‘A Very Hard Day’: Target CEO Bemoans Backlash, Commits To Standing By LGBTQ Community

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Target CEO Brian Cornell has recommitted the retail giant in its support of the LGBTQ community following an announcement that its stores would pull some Pride merchandise in the wake of widespread backlash.

In an email to employees May 24, Cornell bemoaned the firestorm the company has found itself in, admitting to associates, “This has been a very hard day for Target,” Business Insider reported, citing a copy of the email. Cornell added there would be more difficult days ahead for the retail giant filled with “deliberation and decision-making.”

Target has faced enormous criticism recently after the scope of the more than 2,000 Pride offerings became known to the general public in preparation for June’s Pride month. Though the store has celebrated Pride month for nearly a decade, this year’s offerings struck a particularly negative chord with consumers, many of whom took issue with LGBTQ products aimed at children and “tuck-friendly” swimwear for men identifying as women. (RELATED: ‘Deserves The Bud Light Treatment’: Target Offers ‘Tuck-Friendly’ Female Swimsuits)

The store’s decision to pull some of the more controversial items from their shelves in the wake of the consumer backlash was met with fresh upset from the LGBTQ community, some of whom felt the retailer was caving to “bullies” and going back into the “proverbial closet.”

Cornell addressed both of these issues in his email, thanking store associates for “steadfastly representing our values” in order to provide “an inclusive guest experience,” despite facing anger from customers, Insider reported. “What you’ve seen in recent days went well beyond discomfort, and it has been gut-wrenching to see what you’ve confronted in our aisles,” Cornell wrote, according to the outlet.

The CEO stated the backlash was such it forced the company to make adjustments to the Pride displays for the safety and security of their store associates, though Cornell bemoaned the “hardest part in all of this” was considering how those adjustments would affect the LGBTQ community’s “wellbeing and psychological safety.”

“Those were the two guiding principles when it came time for us to act: do all we can to keep our team safe, and do all we can to honor our commitment and connection to the LGBTQIA+ community,” Cornell stated in the email, urging the LGBTQ community to understand that as a company, they “sincerely sought the best path forward.”

“We stand with you now and will continue to do so – not just during Pride Month, but each and every day,” Cornell stated.