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Artists behind Target's Pride collection claim they've received 'no compensation'

Target Store LGBTQ pride month merch gender fluid mug
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Three artists who worked on Target's LGBTQ+ Pride collection are accusing the company of withholding payment after they were suddenly "dropped."

Several artists who worked on Target's annual LGBTQ+ Pride merchandise collection are accusing the company of giving them "no compensation" for their work.

Shanée Benjamin, an artist specializing in bold feminine pieces, recently directly named the company in an Instagram post where she claimed it "dropped myself along with 3 other artist from the Pride campaign" after "working on these assets for 2 years now."

"A few months ago we got word that Target was restructuring their Pride programming, aka pandering to the hateful right/trumpsters," she said. "The production company has been very kind in trying to help us place product, but it’s a bit too late. I had an order of 21000 units, and they’re just gonna sit in a warehouse in Miami. I’m able to keep 100, but the rest is just wasted. So disappointed to even have to make this video, but this is the weird ass world we’re living in."

HeyBeefCake, known for his racy prints of muscular cartoon men, said in a separate Instagram video that he "was asked to work on a collection for a huge company’s 2024 Pride Campaign" before he was suddenly "dropped" as well. The artist also claimed that the company's decision was influenced by last year's conservative campaign against LGBTQ+ Pride collections and collaborations.

"I spent over 160 hours (hours I could have spent on paying work) designing my collection. Unfortunately, I was dropped completely after the rampant homophobia and transphobia during last year’s Pride season," he said. "No explanation, no compensation, nothing. I wasn’t the only one either. In fact, most of the other amazing artists were also screwed over in some way. Shop small and support your favorite queer artists this year."

When one commenter asked if the company was Target, HeyBeefCake only responded with suggestive emojis.

Target has celebrated Pride Month every June for over a decade with a collection honoring the LGBTQ+ community. The retailer began removing some Pride items in certain locations in May last year after threats were made to their employees’ safety, a company spokesperson told The Advocate at the time.

Whistleblowers revealed at the beginning of May that Target will not be stocking Pride merchandise in about half of its 2,000 U.S. locations this June. The reports did not include mentions of employee safety concerns, but rather cited the company as being motivated by the financial impact of the conservative outrage.

En Tze Loh, popular for their whimsical gothic brand GRRRL Spells, added in another video that they "are only being compensated for the 4 designs [Target] manufactured, however we don’t know how much and we haven’t seen a single cent yet."

"We hope that with enough support, we will eventually have the means to slowly produce the full intended collection and get everything that we designed manufactured ourselves," they said.

The Advocate has reached out to Target for comment.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.