Target Accused of Selling 'Silence = Death' Pride Shirt Without ACT UP's Permission

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday May 10, 2022

Target Accused of Selling 'Silence = Death' Pride Shirt Without ACT UP's Permission
  (Source:Screenshot via Target.com/Twitter/@EveProper)

Target is in hot water with LGBTQ rights organizations.

The retail brand is being accused of selling merchandise with the LGBTQ rights slogan "Silence = Death" without permission and without compensating the non-profit organization that owns the rights to the phrase, reported Rolling Stone.

As with most calls to the proverbial carpet, it was social media users who noticed the "Pride Adult Silence Is Death" merchandise on Target's website. A listing for the T-shirt noted that it was done in collaboration with the Phluid Project, a clothing label that heralds "gender-free and purpose-driven shopping, with a spotlight on queer, trans, black, Latinx, and women-owned brands," according to its website.

But there is more to the history. The "Silence = Death" slogan, with accompanying inverted pink triangle logo, has long been associated with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) organization, which were given the rights to the symbol and phrase from the Silence = Death Project that coined it in 1987.

When social media users asked ACT UP whether they were aware of the shirt, the organization responded by tweeting, "We can answer that for you: No. Both @Target and @phluidproject did not get permission to use "SILENCE = DEATH" art. We have been fighting the commodification of AIDS for years and this is the latest edition."


On Target.com, the shirt was still listed for sale as part of the retail giant's Pride-themed collection on Friday morning but was removed as quickly as Friday afternoon.

"This shirt was designed by our vendor partner, The Phluid Project, who is working directly with ACT UP to address their concerns," a Target spokesperson reportedly Rolling Stone. "The item is only available on Target.com, and we've temporarily pulled it from our assortment until the concern is resolved."

ACT UP, however, seems to have other plans. About the shirt, the organization added, "If you want to support our work buy from us: give.actupny.com/gear/ ."