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Designer Left In The Dark When Target Caves To Right-Wing Extremists

Designer Left In The Dark When Target Caves To Right-Wing Extremists

Designer Erik Carnell and a Target store sign.
@abprallenuk/Instagram; Sean Wandzilak/Shutterstock

Artist Erik Carnell's Pride designs were pulled from Target shelves with zero explanation from the store.

Predictably bigots are ruining things again.

In a pattern that feels all too familiar, Target is yanking their Pride collection off of shelves nationwide in response to anti-LGBTQ+ backlash and threats leveled at employees.

But the artist behind the most unique Pride designs the shopping behemoth has ever offered has yet to get an explanation from the store as to why his art has been pulled.

Trans artist Erik Carnell’s designs are the ones causing the biggest uproar from rightwing extremists. They're featured on three products, an adult shirt that reads “Cure transphobia, not trans people,” a bag with an image of a spaceship and a rainbow that says “too queer for here,” and a fanny pack with the words “We belong here.”

Carnell describes his brand Abprallen’s aesthetic as “pastel goth LGBT Pride” and because some of his designs feature images of satan — and his best seller is a pin featuring the tongue-in-cheek slogan “Satan respects pronouns” — bigots seized upon this even though there are no satanic images in the designs Target commissioned him for.

“They haven’t tried to contact me once,” Carnell said of Target in an interview with PinkNews. “In terms of informing me what I can do with my product, I’m very, very, very low priority.”

Target decided to begin removing some of their Pride collection from stores after an intense anti-LGBTQ+ backlash that saw customers confronting employees and tipping over displays.

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

Some are even calling for a boycott of the store, including Rep. Lauren Bobert who tweeted, “Why support woke corporations that hate you? Target won't be getting another dollar from me.”

Carnell said in the interview that creating this mini Pride collection for Target was the biggest opportunity he’s had in his career thus far. But, sadly, he became concerned almost immediately that there was a problem.

“I have been keeping an eye on the website,” he told PinkNews. “Because my stuff was getting review bombed by conservatives, giving it one star reviews, and so I was keeping an eye on that.”

Carnell, who is a UK based artist, said that while he was disappointed in Target’s decision he understood why they made the choice to pull products in the hopes of keeping their employees safe, “If I lived in a country where gun violence was as prevalant as in American and I owned a corporation like Target, I might also do what they’re doing.”

But the artist also leveled criticisms at Target alongside LGBTQ+ activists who were angry at the store for caving to pressure from right-wing extremists.

“I think that, with the current political climate in America, huge companies like Target absolutely need to take a very clear stand on how they feel about LGBTQ+ people,” he said.

In an Instagram post Carnell wrote about why having his designs on the shelves of a big-box retailer was so important: “I wanted to ensure that any young people who saw Abprallen in Target would know that who they are is beautiful, purposeful, and worth expressing. I wanted to create a range that would embrace younger me and tell him that who he is is more than OK, that being trans is special and wonderful and that the closet is not made for him to thrive in.”

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