Transgender British designer Erik Carnell, whose LGBT-themed products became a lightning rod for the boycott of Target because of her Satan-themed products sold elsewhere, is now lashing out at the U.S. retailer for not standing by her.
This month, Target rolled out its annual displays of items themed to the LGBT celebration of June as “pride month.”
But this time, the company ran into a buzzsaw of activism from conservatives flexing their boycott muscles over tanking Bud Light sales following the beer brand’s embrace of a transgender influencer.
Target’s sale of items by Carnell — who designed a shirt emblazoned with “Satan Respects Pronouns” — drew consumers’ ire, as did LGBT items for children and “tuck-friendly” women’s swimsuits.
Why did @target hire a Satanist to design pieces for their recent “Pride” clothing line?
WTF👉🏽”Satan loves you and respects who you are… LGBTQIA+ people are so often referred to as being a product of Satan or going against God’s will, so fine. We’ll hang with Satan instead.” pic.twitter.com/FLsNZNzHNa
— Scarlett Johnson (@scarlett4kids) May 20, 2023
The retailer retreated, pulling some merchandise and, in some brick-and-mortar stores, moving what it kept to less prominent places.
This led Carnell, a woman with a mustache, to denounce what she called “rainbow capitalism,” according to Reuters.
She said businesses that engage in activism should not retreat from their political statements.
“It’s a very dangerous precedent to set, that if people just get riled up enough about the products that you’re selling, you can completely distance yourself from the LGBT community, when and if it’s convenient,” said Carnell, whose brand is Abprallen.
“If you’re going to take a stance and say that you care about the LGBT community, you need to stand by that regardless,” she said.
Although Carnell said Target never reached out to ascertain her well-being after her products were dumped, the online marketplace Etsy — where Carnell operates an online store — has checked on her.
She also said the company Threadless, which prints her creations, has been supportive as well by offering premium services free of charge.
On Friday, Carnell took Target to task on her Instagram account.
“My Target collection has been impacted by this, and as far as I am aware my work is the only one to be removed entirely from online and in store. Links to my collection on Target’s website are now dead, searches yield no results, and my collaboration with them has evidently been discontinued,” she posted.
“Whilst all brands who partnered with Target this Pride season have been impacted I feel as if I have been dealt the worst hand,” Carnell said. “My work was likely pulled following false accusations of being a Satanist and of marketing my work to children, both claims have been debunked numerous times but members of the religious right refuse to back down.”
Then came a Sunday Instagram post in which she said she made an iron-on patch of her “Satan Respects Pronouns” design.
In an earlier Instagram post promoting the design, Carnell said it was a defiant statement against religious authorities who disapprove of transgenderism.
“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. LGBT+ people are so often referred to as being a product of Satan or going against God’s will, so fine. We’ll hang with Satan instead,” she wrote.
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The post continued, “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.
“So, naturally, Satan respects pronouns. He loves all LGBT+ people. I went with a variation of Baphomet for this design, a deity who themself is a mixture of genders, beings, ideas, and existences. They reject binary stereotypes and expectations.”
Despite creating Satanic-inspired designs, Carnell told the Daily Dot: “I don’t believe in Satan. I don’t believe in the Bible … It’s a metaphor.”