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Gay Advocates Protest Target at Standard Hotel Fashion Show

By Patrick Hedlund | August 19, 2010 12:54pm

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — A group of protesters took aim at Target Wednesday night during a high-profile fashion event at the Standard Hotel for making indirect political contributions to an anti-gay group.

Demonstrators waving homemade signs using the Target logo to spell “Bigot” and “H8” shouted “shame, shame, shame” at guests as they streamed out of the Target Kaleidoscopic Fashion Spectacular on Washington Street.

The basis of their protest was Target’s $150,000 contribution to a political fundraising group in Minnesota that endorses the state’s conservative gubernatorial candidate, who reportedly donated funds to a Christian ministry that has affirmed support for violence against gays.

Target has since apologized for the contribution, saying it meant to support the organization’s goals of economic growth and job creation, but that didn’t stop the demonstrators.

“They thought they could get away with it,” said William Conrad, 38, of Long Island, a once-loyal Target customer who said he has stopped shopping there. “I think this particular situation will generate a lot of interest in large corporations donating to political candidates and the backlash that will follow.”

Others took issue with the way the retailer presents itself as a hip, progressive brand that has supported LGBT causes in the past.

“I feel like, oh my god, I helped them make money,” said another protester, who declined to give his name but said he previously worked on event planning with the company. “Gay designers design for Target. I’m sure half of the models [in the fashion show] are gay. They can’t be like that.”

Target's event featured a multi-level runway show accompanied by a colorful light show from rooms on the entire south side of the swanky hotel.

A spokeswoman from Target, Jessica Carlson, would not comment directly on the protest but did say the company remains an ally of the gay community.

“We are committed to the LGBT community,” she said, “and we will continue that commitment.”