Gay bars in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are boycotting Yuengling after the beer company’s owner, Richard “Dick” Yuengling Jr., came out in support of Donald Trump. Last week the fifth-generation businessman gave the Republican nominee’s son Eric a tour of a Yuengling brewery located in Pottsville, Pa.
“My father’s going to make it a lot easier for business to function,” the younger Trump claimed during a news conference. “We’re going to do it right here in the U.S.”
“Our guys are behind your father,” Yuengling responded. “We need him in there.”
Following the owner’s endorsement, Rep. Brian Sims, Pennsylvania's first openly gay state legislator, called on gay-owned businesses in the Keystone State to stop serving the company’s products. Forbes described Yuengling as boasting a “cult-like status” in the 19 states — primarily in the East Coast and Southwest — where the beer is distributed. Even President Obama is a fan.
But the buck has to stop somewhere, as Sims wrote on Facebook.
“One of the most prevalent brands in the gayborhood and in LGBT bars across the Commonwealth, is using our own dollars to back a person and an ideology that says that our lives … matter less,” he said. “More to the point, those dollars are being used right now to give power to his bigoted messages attacking our black and brown neighbors and all of the women in our lives.”
“Our communities know a thing or two about voting with our dollars,” Sims added, “and I won't be using my hard-earned dollars to give power to any company or person who hates me. What about you?”
Following Sims’s call to arms, several gay bars swiftly dropped the brand.
David Perruzza is the manager of JR’s Bar, a popular club located in our nation’s capital. On October 27, he posted a video on Facebook in which he removed the Yuengling tap from the bar, vowing to never serve the beer again. During the 28-second clip, he particularly cited the antigay policies of Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, as behind his decision to boycott.
“When people support things that don’t support us, then we don’t support them,” Perruzza said.
The bar, however, is just one name on a long list of business that have vowed to stop supporting Yuengling. These include 18th and U Duplex Diner, Annie's Paramount Steakhouse, D.C. Eagle, the Dirty Goose, Dito's Bar, Dupont Italian Kitchen, Floriana Level One Cobalt, Freddy's Beach Bar, Green Lantern, Kangaroo Boxing Club, Larry's Lounge, Nelly's, Number 9, Town, Town Patio, Trade, and Ziegfeld's.
Many of Yuengling’s most loyal drinkers have joined the call to #DumpYuengling. Todd Bird, who lives in Louisville, Ky., regularly drives 90 miles to Ohio for a drink of his favorite beer, but he said those days are over.
“Supporting racist, misogynist nut-job Trump is the end of the line for me,” he wrote on Twitter.
The brand first signaled its support for the Republican candidate during a May interview with Forbes, in which Dick Yuengling — who is the great-great-grandson of the company’s founder — decried the impact of government regulation on his company.
“The rules and the regulations and the paperwork — it’s horrible,” Yuengling said. “We don’t need the government to tell us everything.”
He further claimed that high corporate tax rates make his company vulnerable to foreign competitors. “I’m the owner of the oldest brewery in the country,” Yuengling continued. “I’m trying to compete with Anheuser-Busch, which is owned by Belgians, and I’m sure the tax they pay is far less than the percentage we pay in the United States. How do you compete?”
This isn’t the first time that a company has found itself at the center of a nationwide boycott due to its owners’ anti-LGBT politics.
In 2012, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, said marriage equality was “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.” A year later, LGBT activists called for a boycott of Barilla, a popular pasta brand, after its chairman, Guido Barilla, stated that the company would never use same-sex parents in its advertising. Barilla said his target audience is the “classic family.”
“If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand,” Barilla told La Zanzara, an Italian radio program.
The controversy devastated Chick-fil-A’s brand approval rating, which dropped 26 points in the weeks following the boycott, as YouGov reported. Barilla quickly apologized, fearing that the loss of LGBT people's purchasing power, estimated at $800 billion annually, would harm the company.
And in the 1970s, many gay people and labor organizations boycotted Coors beer, due to the company's anti-union stance and allegedly antigay policies. The Coors family was well-known for support of right-wing causes. Eventually the brewer became much more gay-friendly, and it merged with Miller, long considered an LGBT-supportive company, in 2008.
Yuengling has yet to respond to the boycott.