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Bud Light to donate $200,000 to LGBTQ+ business owners amid trans controversy

Bud Light employees at the 2017 Toronto Pride Parade. Photo: Shutterstock

Bud Light, the beer brand that received recent right-wing backlash and left-wing blowback for its handling of a transgender-inclusive marketing campaign, has announced that it will donate $200,000 to support LGBTQ+ business owners of color.

The donation will go towards the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s (NGLCC) Communities of Color Initiative (CoCi). The initiative supports “minority LGBTQ+-owned businesses through certification, scholarships, and business development,” a press announcement stated.

Bud Light will also support NGLCC’s first-ever CoCi Biz Pitch program, a program where LGBTQ+ business owners of color share competing ideas for new business ventures. Those who convince judges of their idea’s possible success will receive $5,000 and have a chance to win up to $50,000 in cash and prizes by competing at the 2023 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference LGBT Biz Pitch Competition in Denver, Colorado in August.

The NGLCC is a not-for-profit corporation that seeks to expand the LGBTQ+ business community and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights worldwide, its website states. Established in 2002, the group is the largest of its kind and officially certifies businesses as being LGBTQ+-owned. The NGLCC says it represents 1.4 million LGBTQ business owners and $1.7 trillion in annual economic activity in the U.S. alone.

Bud Light’s donation to the NGLCC follows a rocky couple of months for the beer brand.

On April 1, transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a 50-second Instagram video revealing 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 baselessly claimed that Mulvaney was a pedophile 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.” Online commenters noted that the company donates big bucks to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris was also 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.

In response, several LGBTQ+ bars stopped serving Bud Light, Colorado’s gay Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced his lifelong boycott on the brand, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) kicked Anheuser-Busch off the top of its corporate equality index (CEI), a measure of various companies’ LGBTQ+-inclusive workplace practices.

HRC senior vice president of programs, research, and training Jay Brown said that he asked Anheuser-Busch to release a statement in support of Mulvaney and transgender people, offer inclusion training to executives, and listen to LGBTQ+ employees, but the company hasn’t done any of those things. In fact, two of the marketing executives who worked on the Mulvaney partnership have been put on leave, which many on the right are claiming as a victory of their boycott.

Bud Light has been a major sponsor of LGBTQ+ events, including international Pride events. LGBTQ Nation contacted Bud Light for comment.

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