As conservatives across the country boycotted Anheuser-Busch products for Bud Light's partnership with trans woman Dylan Mulvaney in 2023, LGBTQ+ bars in Chicago removed their products for a different reason.
Following the deeply negative response to Mulvaney from celebrities and consumers alike, Anheuser-Busch began to distance itself from her instead of supporting her and doubling down on its partnership. In response, some of Chicago's LGBTQ+ bars and clubs discontinued selling the brand's products.
Mark Robertson, co-owner of 2Bears Tavern Group, which owns four bars across Chicago, said his company made the decision to end the selling of Anheuser-Busch products in early May 2023. 2Bears felt the way Anheuser-Busch handled the Mulvaney situation "gave hate a platform," Robertson added.
"It really had to do with support and allyship of our entire LGBTQ community," he said. "We firmly believe that the products that we sell should either be very supportive of our community, or at the very least not creating negativity, hostility and hate toward our community."
Robertson said his bars' patrons were overall supportive of the decision, and that they didn't deal with any particular patron backlash. However, the company did face social media backlash for their product removal, and Robertson has left that publicly visible so everyone could see the hate to which they were exposed.
Robertson said that 2Bears didn't specifically use the term "boycott," nor were they advocating for more organizations to follow their lead. He simply felt inclusivity should not just be convenient, and he didn't want to support a brand who wouldn't stand beside their decision in the face of backlash.
Despite the barrage of hate online, Robertson said, 2Bears's discontinuation of Anheuser-Busch sales didn't affect business. The brand did reach out to 2Bears Tavern Group and had a few meetings with them, but Robertson wasn't impressed with their assessment of the situation.
"Not once did Anheuser-Busch admit what they had done was not supportive," he said. "They just cited donations they were continuing to make to LGBTQ-related events, essentially as their basis for, 'This is okay.' We don't intend to sell their products again."
Anheuser-Busch did not respond to a request for comment.
Sidetrack in Northalsted also joined in to cease selling the brand's products, which Robertson found encouraging. Roscoe's Tavern owner Brenden Chrisman said his bar hadn't even sold the Anheuser-Busch products in over a decade, due to the bar's partnership with Molson Coors. Chrisman said that when he saw other establishments removing the products in 2023, he felt those bars were making the right choice.
"I think the bars that made the decision based on what happened was the right call to make," he added. "Obviously we don't stand behind the actions of Anheuser-Buschthey fumbled that situation in a massive way."
Other LGBTQ+ events went on with Anheuser-Busch sponsorship, notably Market Days 2023, which was sponsored by Bud Light. The Roscoe's booth at Market Days did not sell the brand's products, but instead created a photo opportunity for passers-by with cutouts of the Dylan Mulvaney campaign.
Robertson said he continues to stand by the decision. He added, "If corporate America is not standing next to us through thick and thin, our dollars should not flow to them."