Bias Watch

Conservatives freak out & call for boycott of Listerine over Pride packaging

Listerine, mouthwash
Photo: Public domain - Jagwiire

Anti-LGBTQ+ conservatives now want to boycott Listerine because the mouthwash brand featured a progress Pride flag on its bottle.

Chaya Raichik, who goes by LibsofTikTok on social media, posted an image of Listerine bottles that included drawings of same-gender couples holding hands and displaying rainbow flags. She claimed the brand supports child “sex change surgeries” even though such procedures aren’t conducted on children.

The bottle also mentioned the “Care With Pride” initiative. Started by Johnson & Johnson, Listerine’s parent company, the initiative raises money for LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations fighting for “full equality, inclusivity, care, and representation.” In 2023, the initiative benefitted Family Equality, a group that champions education, public acceptance, positive depictions of, and policy initiatives protecting LGBTQ+ families.

“Listerine supports organizations who advocate for sex change surgeries for minors,” Raichik wrote in an October 22 tweet. “They also make their stance clear with the packaging. Stop giving money to companies who hate you and what you stand for!”

The tweet also contained a link to PublicSq., an app that touts itself as “America’s Marketplace” of “the largest community of freedom-loving, patriotic consumers and businesses the nation has ever seen.” The app lists products and companies that allegedly share “conservative values.”

The app re-tweeted Raichik’s tweet and wrote, “We have dozens of oral care businesses on our platform that would never support this progressive gender nonsense. Stop buying from brands that hate you and your values and shift your spending to the largest marketplace of non-woke businesses.”

It’s hardly surprising that Raichik would be eager to stir up hysteria against a brand that supports the LGBTQ+ community. Doing so has become a popular right-wing pastime as haters do their best to make “Pride toxic to brands.”

This last Pride season, conservatives began boycotts against Target and Bud Light for their LGBTQ+-inclusive Pride campaigns. The boycotts included violent threats against both companies and their representatives. The negative attention caused the brands to back down somewhat from their support and to re-think their queer community engagement in the future.

Despite the backlash, Pride organizers, media experts, and LGBTQ+ groups are encouraging companies to push back on such pressure and also highlighting the many benefits of doing so. One August study found that the majority of consumers are okay with LGBTQ+-inclusive ads, and brands are more likely to lose customers by stopping their LGBTQ+-inclusive marketing efforts in response to anti-LGBTQ+ criticism.

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