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Why Target and Bud Light are conservatives’ new favorite targets

Brendan Whitworth, the CEO of Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch, distanced himself from Mulvaney and said in the days following the backlash that he “never intended to be a part of it.” ‘a discussion that divides people’. About a week later, Anheuser-Busch confirmed media reports that two of the marketing executives who worked on the campaign were taking time off.

Drennen said part of what makes Walsh gain traction is his increased national recognition in efforts to restrict transition-related medical care for minors. In February, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves invited Walsh to speak before Reeves signed a bill banning transitional care for minors in the state. Earlier that month, NBC News reported that Walsh’s advocacy also influenced Tennessee’s decision to reject more than $8 million in federal funds to fight HIV.

“This is all a coordinated attempt to make it untenable to be specifically trans in public,” Drennen said. “And one of the ways they’ve tried to do that is to remove any kind of political support, any kind of corporate support – which basically makes it untenable to be an ally of the trans community. And I think that’s the real connective tissue between these.

She added that Fox News covered a new North Face campaign featuring drag performer Pattie Gonia during a segment on Wednesday. On Thursday, conservative commentator Candace Owens announced on her Daily Wire show that because of the campaign, “there will be nothing in my house from North Face.”

Bob Witeck, president of Witeck Communications, a company specializing in LGBTQ marketing, said that while the controversies surrounding Bud Light and Target were “created” by a small number of people, they were amplified by social media and some media. .

“Kerosene carries much further today,” Witeck said of how controversies sparked by a small number of people spread faster. He added that the conservative response to Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney campaign was sparked, in part, by commentator Ben Shapiro and then picked up by other right-wing voices and news. Shapiro did not immediately return a request for comment.

Conversations about LGBTQ people, at a time when LGBTQ issues are more visible than ever, are “distorting rapidly,” he said. Witeck added that LGBTQ advocates will likely continue to file lawsuits against anti-LGBTQ laws because they violate the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, a 2020 ruling that employees gays and transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. of 1964. The ruling galvanized many grassroots conservative activists.

“Trans people have been dehumanized, people define them in political terms that are dehumanizing, and so it’s a lot easier for these media influencers to line these things up in front of people,” he said of the backlash. from Target and Bud Light, even though “it’s not the motivational issues in their lives.”

Laurel Powell, director of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the United States, said “far-right extremists sense an opportunity”, and that’s why there has been a more intense curatorial response to Target’s Pride Month collection. , For example.

“We are coming off the most hostile and dangerous legislative season in the state when it comes to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation,” Powell said. “We currently exist in a country where one of our major social media networks has essentially become an alt-right platform. They see an opportunity, and what they will find is that they are out of step with most Americans; they are out of step with the vast majority of people who believe that LGBTQ+ people should be able to live lives without discrimination.

In 2016, a slew of major corporations, including American Airlines, Apple, Microsoft, eBay and Nike, signed an amicus brief supporting the Justice Department’s efforts to block the US “toilet bill.” North Carolina, which prohibited trans people from using restrooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificate.

Seven years later, the American public and US-based businesses have only grown more accepting of LGBTQ people, both with their internal policies and through public marketing campaigns. However, Witeck said the difference between then and now is that lawmakers have proposed nearly 500 bills to restrict LGBTQ rights in dozens of states.

“In 2016, one state was doing something new that other states weren’t doing,” Witeck said. Taking a stand on just 10 of the proposed bills this year would be a challenge, “and most major corporations are based in all of those states.”

Witeck said he expects Pride Month this year to be “activist” as LGBTQ people are anxious and worried.

“The corporate alliance is going to be tested like we’ve never seen it before,” he said. “Allies really have to be prepared to grow thorns, to really live up to their values.”

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