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A clear majority of Americans who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ believe companies should publicly support the community, according to a new survey from gay rights organization GLAAD.
About 70% of more than 2,500 adults who don’t identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or an otherwise member of the community said support from companies should come through hiring practices, advertising and sponsorships, according to online responses to GLAAD’s annual “Accelerating Acceptance study,” conducted in February.
“When people are exposed to LGBTQ people and experiences in media it changes hearts and minds and shifts culture and sentiment,” GLAAD said in its release. “Measuring comfortability in media is a pathway to 100% acceptance for LGBTQ people.”
Three out of 4 survey respondents said they feel comfortable seeing LGBTQ people in advertisements, and almost 70% reported feeling comfortable seeing an LGBTQ family with children included in ads.
Mega retailer Target went as far as to pull some of its merchandise from the retail floor last week. A spokesperson for the company said threats to employees were “impacting our team members’ sense of safety and wellbeing while at work.”
Critics continue to incite anti-LGBTQ attacks in stores and on social media, with some calling for boycotts.
In April, Bud Light came under fire after partnering with transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The campaign prompted violent videos of customers shooting cans of Bud Light and a right-wing boycott. In response, the marketing executive who oversaw the partnership at Bud Light parent company Anheuser-Busch Inbev took a leave of absence.
Sales of Bud Light since then continue to suffer, according to data by Evercore ISI. In the week ended May 20, Bud Light sales volume — the number of units of beer sold — declined 29.5% compared with the same period last year.
The company has also faced criticism from LGBTQ+ leaders who have dinged the company for not defending its ties with Mulvaney and the community more strongly.
In a statement responding to the backlash, Anheuser Busch said it “works with hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics.”
GLAAD and more than 100 leading LGBTQ advocacy organizations wrote a letter on Wednesday calling on Target to “reject and speak out against anti-LGBTQ+ extremism going into Pride Month,” which is celebrated in June.
“Doubling down on your values is not only the right thing to do,” the group wrote in a statement. “It’s good for business.”
A separate survey conducted by GLAAD and the Edelman Trust Institute in December found that if a brand publicly supports and demonstrates a commitment to expanding and protecting LGBTQ+ rights, Americans are twice as likely to buy or use the brand.
GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis emphasized in her personal call to action on Twitter last week that companies need to stand behind their products and ad campaigns instead of backing down.
“Anti-LGBTQ violence and hate should not be winning in America,” said Ellis. “But it will continue to until corporate leaders step up as heroes for their LGBTQ employees and consumers and do not cave to fringe activists calling for censorship.”