On Friday, the Washington Post published a piece claiming that conservatives are painting designer Erik Carnell, and the retail chain Target, as promotors of Satan out of anti-LGBTQ hate. They said this is "a common occurrence whenever a major corporation shows support for the community."
"The attacks on Carnell are part of an onslaught against public displays of queer culture," the article states. "Most notably the campaign against Budweiser over its partnership with Mulvaney, and a seemingly organized campaign to ban books with LGBTQ+ content from school libraries. This month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a slate of bills that target drag shows, pronouns, bathroom use, and gender-affirming care for minors."
The outlet noted that the Satanic imagery Carnell uses is "to make a political point." Items that include a goat-headed medallion that said, "Satan respects pronouns," or one that depicts a guillotine that reads "Homophobe Headrest."
Carnell claims to use the symbols to subvert the narrative that queer people are sinful, evil, or otherwise ungodly. "For starters, I don't believe in Satan. If I believed in Satan I'd have to believe in the Bible- and I consider myself an Atheist," He said. "It's no different to people reclaiming slurs and trying to remove the power from it to try and use it to benefit them."
Target began to put up its annual pride displays earlier this month. When some customers noticed that they were selling swimsuits that were "tuck-friendly." They started to dig deeper into the store's items. It was then discovered that the organization hired Carnell, who sells the aforementioned items in his personal store.
In an attempt to distance themselves from the controversy, Target decided it best to move the displays to the back of the store and remove some items altogether. "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," they said in a statement.
"I think that the issue is there’s always going to be a scapegoat. There’s always going to be a figurehead,” Cornell responded to the move. "I have fallen into that trap because a couple of right-wing people have, in bad faith, taken artwork that I have created from my own site, nothing to do with Target, and have spun a narrative to fit what they and their followers will be able to enjoy getting riled up about.”
Target is the latest corporation to move away from its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Anheuser-Busch lost its perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equity Index (CEI) after distancing itself from its partnership with TikToker Dylan Mulvaney. Both companies have lost billions in market share amid the controversy.
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