NORTHALSTED — A slew of Chicago gay bars have stopped selling Anheuser Busch InBev products after the beer giant distanced itself from transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s Bud Light marketing campaign amid anti-trans backlash.
2Bears Tavern Group, which owns four gay bars from Uptown to Rogers Park, was the first to drop Anheuser-Busch InBev, posting on Instagram Thursday that its abandonment of Mulvaney amid controversy “shows how little Anheuser-Busch cares about the LGBTQIA+ community, and in particular transgender people, who have been under unrelenting attack in this country.”
Sidetrack, a 41-year-old gay bar founded by LGBTQ rights pioneers Art Johnston and Jose Pepé Peña, later made the same announcement.
“We must also hold brands accountable if they take active steps against LGBTQ+ equality, visibility and safety,” Sidetrack posted.
The gay bars will no longer sell all Anheuser-Busch products, including Bud Light, Busch Light and Goose Island 312.
The controversy began after Anheuser-Busch partnered with Mulvaney for a sponsored post and launched a line of Pride-themed cans with various pronouns.
Many took to social media to express transphobic outrage over the Mulvaney partnership, including an Instagram clip of country musician Kid Rock shooting four cases of Bud Light with a rifle and customers vowing they would stop drinking Bud Light. Others expressed support for Mulvaney and the campaign.
But Anheuser-Busch CEO Michel Doukeris addressed the controversy during an earnings call with investors Thursday and distanced the brand from Mulvaney, according to Yahoo Finance.
“We need to clarify the facts that this was one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,” Doukeris said.
The CEO also posted a statement in April saying the brand “never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people.”
The team behind 2Bears Tavern Group accused the company of erasing “transgender people in favor of anti-trans vitriol.” The bar group includes 2Bears Tavern Uptown, Jackhammer, Meetinghouse Tavern and the SoFo Tap.
Sidetrack said the CEO’s statement “wrongfully validates the position that it is acceptable to acquiesce to the demands of those who do not support the trans community.”
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