Bias Watch

Walmart is under criticism for selling Pride merchandise. But the company is not backing down.

Walmart is under criticism for selling Pride merchandise. But the company is not backing down.
Photo: Screenshot Walmart

Walmart is walking into 2024’s Pride merch season with its head held high despite the ugly outcome of last year’s far-right meltdown over tuck-friendly swimwear at Target and Bud Light’s several-second-long Dylan Mulvaney video.

On Saturday, the mega-retailer unveiled “totes gay” Pride products and a hashtag to accompany them: #PrideAlways.

Writing on Instagram, Walmart asserted, “Not just a slogan. #PrideAlways is a reminder to lead with love.”

The company’s new Pride Always collection includes products like a notebook that says “beyond gender,” a tote bag declaring “totes gay,” a fanny pack exclaiming “I heart gay people,” and rainbow-splashed pool floaties and kitchen aprons. 

“While I was creating my collection, it was important to me for it to be positive and uplifting,” said Bianca of Bianca Designs, which contributed fanny packs and affirming socks. 

Following last year’s Pride merch madness, during which both Target and Bud Light suffered boycotts and a temporary sales slump, it’s clear “cutting edge” wasn’t in Walmart’s design brief.

“Just how much of Walmart becomes draped in the six-color rainbow flag that the LGBTQ movement has coopted remains to be seen,” far-right Christian site Charisma News blurted, “as a significant portion of its customer base doesn’t subscribe to the radical gender ideologies woke corporations have pushed in recent years.”

The same site brandished a boycott warning, conflating DEI with LGBTQ+ in an alphabet soup of right-wing resentment.

“Should Walmart continue going this way and alienate its customers to please a handful of rabid activists, the chain may go down the same path as Target and Bud Light and lose billions in the name of ‘diversity, equity and inclusion,’ which in reality is ‘division, exclusion, and intolerance.'”

During last year’s Pride boycott mania, Walmart told FOX Business it had no plans to change its LGBTQ+ merchandise strategy.  

“I think we have merchandise that we sell all year that supports different groups,” Chief Merchandising Officer Latriece Watkins said. “In this particular case, we haven’t changed anything in our assortment.”

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told shareholders last year that the company doesn’t “wake up in the morning wanting to go and make social and political statements.”

“We’re [a] retailer,” he explained. “We want everybody to feel comfortable shopping with us… and we want everybody to feel comfortable and excited about working at Walmart.”

Walmart scored 100 out of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index due to its pro-LGBTQ+ worker policies, and Diversity Inc. ranked it as one of its top large companies for support for LGBTQ+ employees in 2021.

The Walmart Foundation has supported LGBTQ+ causes for years, including sponsoring family-oriented drag events.

LGBTQ Nation reached out to Walmart for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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