Libs of TikTok is demanding a boycott of Listerine for packaging featuring Pride-themed illustrations on its bottle. Chaya Raichik, who runs the online account on social media, posted an image of the popular mouthwash in packaging with drawings of same-gender couples holding hands or displaying rainbow flags.
As previously noted by LGBTQ Nation, Libs of TikTok has been influential in shaping public opinion on LGBTQ-related issues on social media, often ginning up outrage among social conservatives over expressions of LGBTQ visibility.
The Pride-themed wrapping on the bottle mentions the “Care With Pride” initiative, started by pharmaceutical industry giant Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Listerine.
The initiative raises money for LGBTQ advocacy organizations that support “full equality, inclusivity, care, and representation.”
In 2023, the initiative benefitted Family Equality, a group that advocates for full legal protections and lived equality for LGBTQ families.
“Listerine supports organizations who advocate for sex change surgeries for minors,” Libs for TikTok wrote in a post on the social media platform X. “They also make their stance clear with the packaging. Stop giving money to companies who hate you and what you stand for!”
The post also encouraged people to visit PublicSq., a right-wing app that encourages people to invest in and patronize “values-aligned” and “patriotic” businesses that stand for “traditional American values.”
Family Equality has been outspoken against recent bills in various states that restrict LGBTQ visibility, including bans on gender-affirming care.
The organization signed on to an amicus brief in August urging the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate lower court orders blocking laws in Tennessee and Kentucky from being enforced.
The signatories to that brief argued that laws barring access to gender-affirming care for trans adolescents — while allowing cisgender or intersex adolescents to access identical treatments — constitute a form of sex-based discrimination.
While gender confirmation surgeries, particularly so-called “bottom surgery,” are extremely rare and not recommended for minors, anti-transgender advocates have claimed that such surgeries are not only harmful and irreversible, but widespread.
As such, any company that shows support for the LGBTQ community or transgender visibility is often characterized as being overly “woke” and tarred with “supporting sex change surgeries for minors,” even if said company has not taken a stance on gender-affirming treatments specifically.
The app retweeted Libs of TikTok’s post, adding, “We have dozens of oral care businesses on our platform that would never support this progressive gender nonsense. Stop buying from brands that hate you and your values and shift your spending to the largest marketplace of non-woke businesses.”
Many of the responses to Libs of TikTok’s post included people swearing off not only Listerine, but all Johnson & Johnson products.
“I don’t support child genital mutilation. I’ll never buy @Listerine again,” wrote one user. “Listerine is owned by Johnson and Johnson. It seems Johnson and Johnson also support child genital mutilation. Parents ought to know Johnson and Johnson supports the pedos targeting their kids.”
It is unclear what the connection between access to gender-affirming care has to do with pedophilia, but it has become a common right-wing trope online.
“I’ve used Listerine for sixty years. No more. Listerine is not getting one more penny from me. Go woke, go bankrupt, Listerine. There’s other alternatives,” wrote a second user.
The responses to Libs of TikTok’s post appear to follow a script that conservatives successfully used to pressure companies into dropping their support of Pride Month or the LGBTQ community more broadly.
As right-wing influencer Matt Walsh previously stated, the purpose of drumming up outrage against LGBTQ-supportive companies is part of a larger campaign to make “Pride toxic to brands” in an effort to get those businesses to renounce their support of the LGBTQ community.
Earlier this year, conservatives successfully targeted Bud Light, causing a disastrous drop in the company’s sales and stock price, as punishment for partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a promotional ad on social media.
Conservatives also successfully pressured retail giant Target into removing Pride-themed merchandise from the shelves after misinformation spread about some of the items being sold in stores.
Individual Starbucks locations also appeared to cave to the anti-LGBTQ backlash, with LGBTQ employees in various locations throughout the country claiming their managers either refused to put up LGBTQ-themed decorations during Pride Month, or ordered such decorations to be taken down. The company denied reports that it was backing away from its support of LGBTQ inclusion, although a company spokesperson did concede that local store leaders can exercise their own discretion over how a store looks or which decorations it allows to be hung.
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