Open letter from a Target employee

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Earlier today, I received word that local LBGT groups plan to protest at the newly opened Wilson Yard Target Store over the retailer’s recent corporate donation made to MN Forward. As a Wilson Yard team member, I feel torn between my job and my lifestyle. While I cannot in good conscience insert my raw opinion either way into the matter as I have a personal stake with both sides, I do feel my unique position allows me an opportunity to bring in a third perspective that until now has remained fairly silent over this unfortunate situation.

By “third perspective,” I mean the perspective of the LGBT Target Team member.

Here in Chicago, the opening of the new Wilson Yard Target store has created much excitement. Not only has it brought over 300 local permanent jobs to the struggling Uptown neighborhood, but it is already being touted as one of the best, cleanest Targets in the area. However, in the gay community, that excitement quickly waned as news started to surface about the donation mentioned above.

As a gay man, I have experienced overt discrimination and harassment from those who disagree with my lifestyle. Even in the local/national media realm, news is consistently filled with how the LGBT community has, and continues to be, discriminated against. So, with news that one of our longtime corporate allies made such a large contribution to a political action committee whom actively supports a candidate that is a known enemy of the LGBT community, its no surprise that I feel somewhat disheartened and torn.

On one hand, Target is my employer.  I, along with many other gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, depend on Target for our livelihoods. On the other hand, the election of anti-gay politicians can have great affects on my life as well. Thus, I have several requests for both my friends protesting and for my employer.

To those protesting, please remember your purpose for protesting.  It is a powerful tool and should be treated as such. While my words are not meant as encouragement or discouragements of this, upon proceeding with this please create an open dialogue. Be open to discussion, and above all, know that you are not protesting those of us employed by Target.

To Target and its CEO Gregg Steinhafel, I am grateful for your quick response to this situation and your dedication to more careful review process for proposed donations in the future. However, I urge you to make this right by taking the advice of the Human Rights Campaign and provide at least an equivalent, if not greater, contribution to pro-LGBT organizations to compensate for the harm that can be done to our community should Tom Emmer be elected as Minnesota’s governor.

It is my hope that soon a satisfactory conclusion for all parties can be reached.

Ryan S. Justice