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North Side LGBTQ+ bars drop Budweiser as company pivots from partnership with trans influencer

CHICAGO (WLS) – Several LGBTQ+ bars on Chicago’s North Side are dropping all Anheuser-Busch products from their establishments.

It’s all in response to what they say is the company’s lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community after the brand partnered with a trans woman influencer, faced major backlash from the right, and walked back the sponsorship with a semi-apology.

And, the co-owner of four LGBTQ+ bars ABC7 with said he is simply living his values and severing ties with a major brand he says has turned its back on his community.

At 2Bears Tavern Uptown, Mark Robertson cracked open a Bud Light, not to drink, but to pour down the drain.

SEE ALSO | Budweiser pivots with new ad after partnership with transgender TikTok star stirs backlash

“Unlike what we would expect from Anheuser-Busch, that had a history of supporting LGBTQ events and programing, sponsoring things like pride in Chicago, they chose to side with hate,” Robertson said.

Robertson said Anheuser-Busch should be ashamed of what he says is its lack of conviction and support of his community.

“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 said.

It all started after Anheuser-Busch partnered with trans woman influencer Dylan Mulvaney to promote Bud Light. That sparked major backlash from the political right, with Kid Rock even using bud light for target practice.

But, after Mulvaney faced a slew of hate and bigotry online, Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth issued a statement saying, in part, “We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. My time serving this country taught me the importance of accountability and the values upon which America was founded.”

“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 said.

Now, 2Bears group has removed all traces of Anheuser-Busch products. There are no taps, no beers, and even the Busch name has been covered with electrical tape on the bar. And, trailblazing Northalsted LGBTQ+ bar Sidetrack has also stated online that it is dropping all Anheuser-Busch Products.

“We are looking for real, honest support. 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.'”

On Friday afternoon, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson responded to ABC7’s request for an interview, saying, “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.”

That community will be watching the company’s actions to back that statement going forward.

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