Satan-loving trans artist Erik Carnell who designed items in Target’s controversial 2023 Pride collection slams firm’s decision to remove products in response to anti-LGBTQ backlash and reveals bosses have not been in touch
- Erik’s Target collection includes t-shirts and badges with pro LGBTQ+ messages
- Target announced on Tuesday it is pulling some of its Pride month merchandise
A Satan-loving trans artist who designed items in Target’s controversial 2023 Pride collection has slammed the firm’s decision to remove its collection from many of its stores in response to an anti-LGBTQ backlash and has revealed that bosses have not been in touch.
Erik Carnell, who was commissioned to create some of the 2023 Pride items alongside other queer creators, claims he was not told that many of his designs would be taken off shelves or moved to the back of stores.
This action was taken following violent threats by right-wing extremists, who expressed anger at the store supporting Pride Month and LGBTQ+ lives.
‘They haven’t tried to contact me once,’ Erik told PinkNews.
‘In terms of informing me what I can do with my product, I’m very, very, very low priority.’
Erik Carnell (pictured), who was commissioned to create some of the 2023 Pride items alongside other queer creators, claims he was not told that many of his designs would be taken off shelves or moved to the back of stores
Erik’s Target collection includes t-shirts, bags and badges with pro LGBTQ+ messages.
On Tuesday, Target announced it is pulling some of its merchandise that celebrates Pride month after threats to employees.
‘Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work,’ a Target spokesperson said in a statement.
‘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,’ the spokesperson added.
The Pride Month collection was unveiled at the start of May, fresh on the heels of the Bud Light Dylan Mulvaney controversy.
Target has been facing a consumer boycott over the collection, which features transgender swimsuits for children and books called ‘Bye Bye Binary’.
Pictured: A t-shirt designed by Erik. He claims he was not told that many of his designs would be taken off shelves or moved to the back of stores
Pictured: A bag designed by Erik, which reads ‘Too Queer for Here’. Erik’s Target collection includes t-shirts, bags and badges with pro LGBTQ+ messages
Target announced on Tuesday that it was pulling some merchandise from its Pride collection. Abprallen’s items are currently unavailable on the Target website
The store has been criticized for ‘caving’ to right-wing attacks with its decision to remove items.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom declared that Target CEO Brian Cornell was ‘selling out the LGBTQ+ community to extremists’.
Erik, who is from the UK, said the production of the collection began ‘around a year ago’ after he was contacted by a distributor to create designs for Target.
He said: ‘I designed a bunch of items, put together a pitch, and we ended up getting a handful of those designs manufactured into pins and bags and tanks tops and a sweatshirt.’
He said it was the biggest opportunity in his career and that he was ‘incredibly excited’ to showcase designs similar to those he sells from his online store.
Pictured: An item from the 2023 Target Pride collection. The Pride Month collection was unveiled at the start of May
Pictured: A t-shirt from the 2023 Target Pride collection. Target has been facing a consumer boycott over the controversial collection
Pictured: A t-shirt from the 2023 Target Pride collection. Target has been criticized for ‘caving’ to right-wing attacks with its decision to remove items
However, Erik became concerned almost immediately after the collection was launched, due to the online response.
‘I have been keeping an eye on the website,’ he said.
‘Because my stuff was getting review bombed by conservatives, giving it one-star reviews, and so I was keeping an eye on that.’
He added: ‘Every so often, one or two or my products would be taken down from the website, or the link to my brand page… with no explanation or communication.’
Erik said the company should have done more to anticipate the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash and to protect its members of staff.
‘I think it was anticipated that there would be pushback, I don’t think anybody anticipated that it would be quite this extreme,’ he said.
He added: ‘I think with Target, it’s very much a case of everyone scrambling to do what they think is the best thing for the next five minutes.
‘I don’t think they have a plan for what they’re going to do going ahead with the rest of this collection.
‘They’ve already taken down a number of Pride displays, mostly in the south, or moved into different areas [of the stores], instructing their employees to do this in the space of five or six hours.’
He also noted that, while the decision was undoubtedly disappointing, he could see ‘from an objective standpoint’ the company’s priority to keep ’employees safe and keeping their finances safe’.
He said: ‘If I lived in a country where gun violence was as prevalent as in American and I owned a corporation like Target, I might also do what they’re doing.’
Footage shared online shows people attacking Pride displays inside Target stores.
However, despite Target’s response to the right-wing backlash, Erik continued to support pro-LGBTQ+ activists’ criticism of the decision, saying it’s ‘entirely justified’ and that a different approach could have been taken.
He said: ‘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. Walmart has a Pride collection as well, but that hasn’t seemed to receive any negative press.’
The brand has now caught the attention of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. ‘Even by the standards of woke corporations, Target’s partnership with a Satanist to push the trans agenda on children is remarkable. The next time Target comes begging for help, Republicans should respond, “best of luck,” he tweeted
Erik also called on those who were speaking out against Target to help by supporting LGBTQ+ community-driven designers, as well as ensuring the safety of queer people.
He said: ‘Ensuring trans people, particularly trans people of colour are looked after and cared for, making sure that local queer clubs, bars, cafes are getting the funding that they need, I think that’s far more important right now.’
In a bio on Abprallen’s website, Erik said he has always been fascinated with the ‘frightening and mystical’.
‘I juxtapose it with imagery of skulls and spooky things – an interest of mine since I was a child. There’s something magical about the unknown, the frightening, and the mystical which is why I so frequently feature these themes in my art,’ he said.
In a description on his Etsy store, he wrote: ‘Satan loves you and respects who you are. You’re important and valuable in this world and you deserve to treat yourself with love and respect.
‘I’ve been thinking a lot lately about The Satanic Temple, and to a lesser extent, The Church of Satan, how they’re so frequently misunderstood and demonised (pun not intended) and how LGBT+ people are so often referred to as being a product of Satan or going against God’s will.
‘Satanists don’t actually believe in Satan, he is merely used as a symbol of passion, pride, and liberty. He means to you what you need him to mean.
‘So for me, Satan is hope, compassion, equality, and love.’
The partnership has now caught the attention of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.
He tweeted: ‘Even by the standards of woke corporations, Target’s partnership with a Satanist to push the trans agenda on children is remarkable.
‘The next time Target comes begging for help, Republicans should respond, “best of luck.”‘
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