Major brands such as Bud Light and Target, among others, are facing immense backlash from supporting LGBTQ causes, with the market capitalization of the firms crashing by double digits in recent weeks.
Stores of Target were boycotted after the retail giant rolled out its Pride collection at the beginning of May, including some items targeted at children. Between May 1 and May 30, Target’s market capitalization fell from $72.52 billion to $61.78 billion—a decline of 14.80 percent. Bud Light became a target after partnering with transgender social media personality Dylan Mulvaney in a promotional campaign in April. Between April 3 and May 30, the market cap of Anheuser-Busch, which owns Bud Light, fell from $132.06 billion to $108.19 billion—a decrease of over 18 percent.
Target shares were trading at $130.93 as of 06:07 EDT, June 1, down 13.71 percent year to date and at a fresh 52-week low. It is the stock’s longest losing streak since November 2018. Shares of Anheuser-Busch Inbev SA were trading at €49.97, down 12.18 percent for the year.
In addition to Target and Bud Light, several other companies, including PetSmart, Chick-fil-A, and Walmart, are also now facing boycott calls due to their endorsement of the LGBTQ agenda.
A major factor enticing brands to increasingly promote transgender ideologies is an attempt to score points on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards used by several high-profile investors.
Target rolled out its Pride collection at the beginning of the month, offering over 2,000 products, including clothing, books, home furnishings, and calendars, among others. Some of the items were targeted at children.
For example, books for kids aged 2–8 had titles like “Pride 1,2,3,” “Bye Bye, Binary,” and “I’m Not a Girl.” Target also suggested “The Pronoun Book” to kids aged 0–3. In home décor, Target offered mugs labeled “Gender Fluid.” It also offered transgender swimsuits for adults with a “tuck-friendly” feature.
The company’s actions attracted a lot of negative reactions online, eventually leading to a boycott call. The firm then decided to remove some of the controversial items.
Target’s 2022 ESG report shows that at least 51 percent of its suppliers are “owned, controlled, and operated by women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, veterans, or people with disabilities.” In addition, 59 percent of their Pride Month assortment was created by LGBT creators and brands.
Target has also donated $2.1 million to New York City-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), an activist group that puts LGBTQ-themed books in K–12 school libraries and encourages teachers to discuss sex and gender with kids.
In April, Anheuser-Busch sent custon Bud Light beer cans to Mulvaney featuring the trans-activist’s face, a move that was criticized as pushing the transgender agenda. The can was created to celebrate a full year of Mulvaney transitioning to “girlhood.” In the ad, Mulvaney is shown promoting Bud Light drinks with the hashtag #budlightpartner.
As the promotional campaign went viral, criticism started to pour in. Mike Crispi, a podcast host and former Republican New Jersey primary candidate for Congress, called for a boycott. “Boycott Bud Light and NEVER DRINK IT AGAIN EVER,” he said in a tweet on April 3.
The campaign has been devastating for the company’s sales numbers.
Data by Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen IQ reported by the New York Post showed that sales of Bud Light fell by 25.7 percent for the week ended May 20.
As for ESG policies, Anheuser-Busch’s 2022 ESG report (pdf) shows that the company has created employee resource group (ERG) toolkits focusing on “LGBTQ+, gender, and racial equity.”
Pet products retailer PetSmart faced backlash for its “You Are Loved” collection that was launched just days before the June Pride Month.
The collection featured rainbow-colored toys, clothes, and other items like aquarium ornaments and dog bandanas that had the words “pride vibes” emblazoned on them.
The company’s offerings for dogs include a Pride dog bikini. For cats, rainbow-colored collars and tents are on offer. PetSmart provides “Pride wings” costumes and “Pride vibes” tank tops for reptiles.
Similar to Target, PetSmart also carries a partnership with GLSEN, having made contributions totaling $600,000—with $200,000 made this year alone.
Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A came under recent scrutiny after the firm was discovered to have hired a vice president of “diversity, equity, [and] inclusion,” or DEI.
“We have a problem,” Joey Mannarino, a conservative host highlighting Chick-fil-A’s prior announcement, wrote on Twitter on May 30. “Chick-fil-A just hired a VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This is bad. Very bad. I don’t want to have to boycott. Are we going to have to boycott?”
“Chick-fil-A isn’t the Lord’s Chicken anymore … it’s the Woke Chicken … Funding ties also to BlackRock and Vanguard in addition to hiring for DEI to up their ESG scores,” Morgonn McMichael, a contributor at Turning Point USA, said in a June 1 tweet.
Chick-fil-A used to support organizations perceived as anti-LGBTQ. But in 2019, the company changed its stance and said that it would extend support to other charities. As part of the restructure, Chick-fil-A stopped donating to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
After Target, Walmart is another retailer under scrutiny for its LGBT support. The company’s July 2022 ESG report states that it conducts an “inclusive sourcing” program for LGBTQ groups. “For our U.S. businesses, we sourced more than $13.3 billion in goods and services from approximately 2,600 diverse suppliers.”
Walmart received a full 100 points on The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). In order to obtain a perfect CEI score, an organization has to donate to LGBTQ causes as well as refuse to donate to non-religious organizations that oppose such causes. The organization must also support gender transitioning.
In 2021, Walmart donated $500,000 to PFLAG, the largest organization in the United States that advocates for LGBTQ causes.
Walmart is also offering Pride products. A controversial product being offered by the company is a “breathable” chest binder aimed at “trans, lesbian, and tomboys.” The binder, offered online, features pictures of a young girl modeling the product.
GLSEN, the organization to which Target and PetSmart made donations, has a “Rainbow Library” program under which the nonprofit has sent more than 46,000 “LGBTQ+ affirming K-12 books” to over 4,600 schools across the nation. GLSEN also encourages teachers to incorporate gender and sex discussions in topics like mathematics.
Among the list of books that GLSEN wants elementary school students to read is “When Aidan Became a Brother,” which is a story about a couple who “fixed the parts of life that didn’t fit anymore” after their daughter told them she “felt more like a boy.”
Another book titled “I Am Jazz” is about a boy who felt he had “a girl’s brain in a boy’s body” since he loved things like “pink and dressing up as a mermaid.”
GLSEN also insists that educators and other staff members should not reveal details regarding a student’s gender identity to a third party, including their own parents or guardians unless the student has authorized making such a disclosure.
ESG principles make companies look beyond making market demand and profits, and focus on taking actions related to issues like climate change, racism, and sexual identity, among others. It is adopted by firms mainly to appease large investors like BlackRock that use these metrics to evaluate whether to invest or not.
In a Sept. 16 interview with The Epoch Times’ “Crossroads” program, Andy Puzder, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, pointed out that while capitalism focuses on enhancing investor returns, ESG focuses on “accomplishing leftist political agenda.”
A group of “corporate elites” at financial firms such as BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard—which together control more than $20 trillion worth of investments—are “imposing their will” on the managers of companies that they are invested in.
Corporate elites pushing ESG investments aren’t, as such, part of the government. But now under the Biden administration, “the government elites are working with them,” Puzder said. As radical leftist ideologies aren’t overtly popular, such ideas are being pushed onto companies via ESG investing, he said.
ESG is “a threat to our economic freedom because they use this tremendous voting power to compel the management of these companies not only to pursue these leftist goals but also to put those leftist goals above their obligation, their traditional obligation to generate returns for shareholders,” he warned.
“And it’s a threat to our individual liberty because they figured out how to use our money to do it.” These investment companies use money that the public has invested in 401(k)s and pension funds to push forward their agenda.
Voices For and Against the Boycotts
The conservative boycott against pro-LGBTQ companies have triggered calls for protests from supporters. “We have to remember that pride started off as a protest,” Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) told his party’s LGBTQ caucus on Saturday, according to Semafor.
“It cannot just be a celebration anymore. We are being systematically attacked,” he said. Garcia was the first openly gay mayor of Long Beach prior to winning his House seat in 2022.
In a May 25 press release, pro-LGBTQ group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) insisted that the pushback against businesses like Target and Anheuser-Busch are “blatantly organized by extremist groups.”
The boycotts “serves as a wake up call for all businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community. We’ve seen this extremist playbook of attacks before. Their goal is clear: to prevent LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation, silence our allies, and make our community invisible.”
Meanwhile, conservatives online continue to push for boycotting brands that promote LGTBQ ideologies. “This battle cannot be won without strong moms standing up for their children. Men did our part with Bud Light. We made it socially unacceptable to drink groomer beer. So conservative momma bears, will you stand up for your children? Boycott Target. Salt the earth. Fight back,” Benny Johnson, host of the podcast “The Benny Show,” stated in a tweet on May 24.
Erin Elmore, a conbtributor at Turning Point USA, pointed out that calls to boycott Target are “not necessarily conservative.”
Instead, “it’s common sense. Most parents don’t support satanists or little boys wearing girls bathing suits,” she said in a tweet on May 28.
Even as brands lose customers, and report a drop in valuations, many corporations are likely to stick with their messaging, as they have over the past several years. This is mainly due to support from investors and regulatory authorities.
Brands would likely take a different route once shareholders make their voices known. Most companies simply expect the boycott and protests to subside over time.
From The Epoch Times