Target's Decision Not To Sell Frank Ocean Album Raises Fresh LGBT Questions

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Mega retailer Target's actions have again raised questions about the company's position on gay rights now that it has decided not to sell the highly-anticipated new record by R&B singer Frank Ocean, who recently made headlines by announcing that his first love was another man.

Target, the second-largest discount retailer in the United States, said that the company's decision not to stock Ocean's critically-acclaimed new record "Channel Orange," due to hit stores July 17, was made because the singer's label Def Jam opted to release the album exclusively on iTunes a week before it would be available in retail outlets.

Ocean's manager Christian Clancy took to his Twitter account to hint that the retailer's decision had less to do with the iTunes exclusive, and more to do with Ocean's admission of his attraction to a person of the same sex.

"Target has refused to carry Frank's album because of iTunes exclusive," Clancy tweeted, according to Billboard. "Interesting since they also donate to non-equal rights organizations."

Soon after Clancy made the comment, Target responded that the allegations are "absolutely false" and that the retailer's decisions are "based on a number of factors, including guest demand."

"Target has a longstanding tradition of supporting music and artistry that reflects the diverse landscape of American culture. Our history of partnering with diverse artists includes recent partnerships with a variety of musicians, such as Ricky Martin, B.o.B., and Gloria Estefan," Target said in a statement.

Clancy has since removed the comment from his Twitter account, and later wrote: "I apologize for my comments about Target. They are not carrying Frank's album because it went digital first. Not for ANY other reason. … My response was simply an emotional knee jerk reaction. … Stop. Breath. Do the best you can. Be honest. Keep it moving."

Target, however, does currently stock another album that was first exclusively released on iTunes before it was sold in stores -- 2011's platinum-selling "Watch the Throne," by rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West. That album, which incidentally was released by Ocean's label Def Jam, is currently available at Target locations.

This is not the first time Target has come under fire from the LGBT community. Last year, Lady Gaga, a vocal supporter of gay rights, dissolved her partnership with the retailer after an outcry from the LGBT community over the Minneapolis-based company's financial support of political action group Minnesota Forward, which supported failed 2010 gubernatorial candidacy of Tom Emmer, an opponent of same-sex marriages.

The initial deal would have made Target the sole retailer of the exclusive expanded edition of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." That album went on to sell over two million copies in the U.S. and was one of 2011's top-selling records.

Billboard reports that "Channel Orange" is set to debut at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 next week with sales of 100,000 to 120,000 copies. It is currently the number one album being sold on iTunes.

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