Some LGBTQ+ bars in Chicago are dropping Anheuser-Busch products, angry that the company isn’t standing by its work with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
“Unlike what we would expect from Anheuser-Busch, that had a history of supporting LGBTQ events and programming, sponsoring things like pride in Chicago, they chose to side with hate,” said Mark Robertson of 2Bears Tavern Uptown. He is the co-owner of four LGBTQ+ bars in Chicago.
He was referring to the very weak statements Anheuser-Busch has made about the month of rightwing outrage over a sponsored Instagram video Mulvaney made for Bud Light.
On April 1, Mulvaney posted a 50-second video to Instagram with some custom Bud Light cans with her face on them. Over the next month, conservatives lost their minds, posting videos as they dumped out Bud Light cans and shot up cases of Bud Light with semiautomatic rifles. Elected Republicans claimed that Mulvaney was a pedophile (without any evidence at all) and that the global balance of power would be upset by Mulvaney’s Instagram video. Others said that they were boycotting Bud Light, often switching to other LGBTQ+-friendly brands.
By the end of April, Bud Light’s parent company – Anheuser-Busch – had put out a statement saying that it “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people… We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer.”
Then, last week, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris brought up the controversy in an investor call and said, “We will continue to learn, meet the moment in time, all be stronger and we work tirelessly to do what we do best: Bring people together over a beer and creating a future of more cheers.” He was criticized for not standing up for Mulvaney, transgender people, or LGBTQ+ people more generally in the face of the transphobic rage that followed the sponsored video.
“We would not let a customer stand here and say anti-trans things. We are certainly not going to let a beer go across our bar that is letting people say anti-trans things,” Robertson told ABC7 Chicago.
“They have continued to redouble their negative response, and keep saying ‘Oops, we made a mistake. We made a mistake,’ which is essentially saying supporting the LGBTQ community, specifically the ‘T,’ in this case, was a mistake. And that’s disgusting.”
Robertson not only dumped out all the Anheuser-Busch beer in the bar, he also removed all traces of their products, getting rid of their taps and covering the Busch name with electrical tape on the bar.
“We are looking for real, honest support,” he said. “Not a rainbow flag on a t-shirt. Not a rainbow cup. Not a rainbow cake. I’m looking for you to stand up and say, ‘We support you. We believe in your rights.'”
Sidetrack, another Chicago LGBTQ+ bar, is doing the same thing.
“We remain committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations to drive economic prosperity across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” Anheuser-Busch said in a statement.