Two weeks ago, our team visited the Stonewall Inn in New York City and met with owners Kurt Kelly and Stacy Lentz. We learned the history of the historic 1969 uprising and protests that were the catalyst for the global gay rights movement and deepened our knowledge of the history of PRIDE, allowing us to broaden our work as an agent of change to help dismantle all forms of gender discrimination.
During our conversation, Stacy, who is also the CEO of the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative (SIGBI), was discussing their new Safe Spaces campaign, and said “we need to make sure that public venues, stores, business, etc. that say they are LGBTQA+ friendly and a safe space for the community are putting in the work and have the policies, procedures, and training to make sure they truly are a safe and affirming space for our community.” The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative supports grassroots organizations and marginalized communities across the globe with a focus on those where progress toward equality has been slow and spreading the Stonewall Inn Legacy to places where it is most needed. There is more urgency than ever as there are states that are implementing anti LGBTQ policies and companies donating money to anti-LGBTQ politicians. Stacy made it clear that they needed to stand up, speak up and speak out against these companies, and Anheuser-Busch was one of them.
Today, the Stonewall Inn has banned beers from Anheuser-Busch after it revealed that the company donated over $35,000 to anti-LGBTQ state-level politicians.
From an article today posted on LGBTQNation by Bil Browning, Bil noted that “Anheuser-Busch makes Budweiser and Bud Light, Stella Artois, Michelob, and Shock Top beers, among several others. The company was one of several who claims to “celebrate Pride” while secretly funding the anti-LGBTQ movement that has been targeted by the #KeepYourPride campaign.”
The article goes on to talk about how companies merchandise to the LGBTQ+ community in June, including creating custom logos, adding the rainbow sticker to their storefronts, but many of these companies don’t support the movement year around, and many of them, such as in the case of Anheuser-Busch, are actually contributing to politicians with clear anti-LGBTQ views and platforms.
As CEO of Teneral Cellars, I have been asked if we are just promoting our “Love is Love”collection in June to capitalize on PRIDE month, and I welcome that question as it allows us to respond and share how our company was created and to elevate women, inspire change, and to give back 10% of our profits to charities that empower women and inspire change. We are led by our belief statements, and Love is Love is one of those key belief statements. I met Stacy Lentz earlier this year to talk about their work and to ask if we could support what the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative was doing for a three-month period, and how we could be an agent for change to help them spread the message of SIGBI and to educate our customers on how much work still needs to be done to dismantle all forms of gender discrimination. From our employees to our advisors and investors, we are proud of the LGBTQ+ representation, voices and experiences that make up how we show up daily and operate in a way that will create meaningful change. For every “Love is Love” 3-pack of wine sold, we are donating $10 to the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, and for every box of wine sold, there is information and education included so that when a box of wine is opened, the conversation begins on critical issues like equality and justice for all love. We are very conscious and intentional about who we do business with and what themes and charities we select for our quarterly SWARM Club wine releases. I saw in this article how many of the companies get perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index, but how activists have decried the report for years as an inaccurate showing of where companies actually stand when it comes to the LGBTQ community. Several of the companies on the HRC list make large donations to the organization and get perfect scores despite obvious deficiencies. A quote from Anheuser-Busch in the article says “We support candidates for public office whose policy positions and objectives support investments in our communities, job creation, and industry growth. Together, with our brands, we have a clear role to play in bringing real change and creating an inclusive and equitable world where we cherish and celebrate one another.” The politicians that Anheuser-Busch is handing fistfuls of cash, however, aren’t interested in “an inclusive and equitable world.”
“We just felt Stonewall having the platform, the power to do this, it was important to stand up,” co-owner Stacy Lentz said. “We really just want Anheuser-Busch to stop donating to lawmakers who are trying to legalize discrimination.”
As a company that elevates women and inspires change, we believe consumers have the power with their purchasing dollars to make a difference in the world. Supporting companies that truly believe in making a difference, and work to do so is where we should be spending our dollars, not on companies that talk the talk and don’t walk the walk like Anheuser-Busch.
We all know our political system is broken and many of the policies, laws and regulations in place to support equality and justice for all are being threatened and, in many cases, overturned, negatively impacting our most vulnerable communities. We can all make a difference by knowing more about the companies we patronize and supporting the ones that align with our social and moral values. If we don’t demand change like the Stonewall Inn is doing, who will?
~ Jill Osur