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Mike Johnson supported right-wing Target boycott over LGBTQ+ merchandise

Target Store LGBTQ pride rainbow queer merchandise Trans People Will Always Exist Shirt speaker of the house Mike Johnson boycotts
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The far-right lawmaker was outraged about the ‘woke’ ideology of inclusivity during Pride Month last year.

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In a podcast episode from May 27, 2023, House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, voiced his support for the right-wing boycott of Target due to the retailer’s LGBTQ+ inclusive inventory. Johnson’s comments, made before he became House speaker, highlight the ongoing cultural battle over corporate support for LGBTQ+ rights.

“The things that we see happening in the culture. Everybody’s all wrapped up in Washington, wrapped around the axle on the debt limit crisis and all the other things going on. But underneath all of that is these root problems about our deep concern and the sense that we all have that the foundations of our country, the very foundations are crumbling,” Johnson said. He criticized Target for its Pride Month products, describing some as “not even family-friendly.”

Johnson referred to an article from the Family Research Council, which criticized Target CEO Brian Cornell for his defense of the company’s decisions. “I think they did not get the cue from Disney and Anheuser-Busch with the Dylan Mulvaney partnership with Bud Light and all the rest. And it seems they’re doubling down,” Johnson added, pointing to backlash the beer company received after working on a social media ad with the transgender influencer.

The remarks, first reported by LGBTQ Nation, highlight the broader right-wing strategy of targeting corporations perceived as endorsing progressive social agendas. Johnson argued that these corporate actions contribute to societal decay, linking them to lawlessness and moral decline.

He also noted the economic repercussions for companies like Target and Anheuser-Busch, whose stock has suffered following similar controversies. “It’s amazing to me, stunning even that the CEOs of these companies don’t recognize the link to that. They don’t understand the consequences of their actions,” Johnson stated.

Johnson’s unearthed comments come amid broader controversy surrounding Target’s handling of its Pride Month collection. In June 2023, Target faced significant backlash and reported employee harassment, including bomb threats at stores in Utah, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The company announced it would remove some Pride products from stores in response to the anti-LGBTQ harassment, a move criticized by many within the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Target will only stock Pride products in about half of its nearly 2,000 stores across the United States, with all products still available online, according to the company.

Johnson has a long history of anti-LGBTQ+ positions. Before entering politics, he was an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit law firm known for opposing LGBTQ+ equality and abortion rights. Johnson has consistently received a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard for his voting record. He opposed the Equality Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, and numerous other pro-equality bills. Johnson has introduced legislation similar to Florida’s “don’t say gay” law and has led hearings against gender-affirming care for minors.

In 2004, Johnson wrote an editorial opposing marriage equality, arguing that changing marriage laws for LGBTQ+ people would lead to legal recognition of other “deviant” groups. His tenure in the Louisiana House included sponsoring a bill that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples based on religious beliefs. Johnson has also criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn sodomy laws and defended Louisiana’s ban on marriage equality.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).