Growing up as a bullied gay teenager I could never have imagined that I would one day sit out and proud at the helm of the world’s first LGBTQIA+ alcohol free brewery, alongside my feisty fiancée Sarah. I didn’t know any LGBTQIA+ individuals growing up, I didn’t see someone I could relate to or a brand that spoke out for my rights.
Some things have changed a lot since I was a teenager, others not so much. I don’t remember if Pride month was really a thing in the 90’s but if it was, it didn’t speak to me. As brands clamber to outwardly declare support for our community throughout the month of June, I have encouraged the team at Drop Bear to turn inwards and reflect, and do so myself.
Whilst I know representation and discussion is absolutely crucial, I, like so many others worry about tokenism. Are brands jumping on the rainbow painted bandwagon in order to save face and drive revenue for themselves? Do they really care? Are they making real change?
We’ve seen time and time again organisations adding rainbows to their packaging throughout June only to find that behind the scenes they actually fund anti-LGBTQIA+ groups or decision makers. Now these are the extreme cases, I think most people are coming (hopefully) from the right place and perhaps don’t realise that their efforts for outwardly supporting the community 1/12 of the year just isn’t enough for authentic, impactful change. Rich Ferraro, chief communications officer at GLAAD has indicated that companies need a 365 day inclusivity plan to make real change.
I feel a personal responsibility to put myself out there and help tackle the issue of visibility and representation. Drop Bear is the world’s first LGBTQIA+ founded alcohol free brewery, we care about a lot of things, we truly do but are we using our platform as much as we could? Are our good intentions organised enough?
I ask myself the very important question…are we doing enough?
What are we currently doing for LGBTQIA+ inclusion?
· Sarah and I make a point of being front and centre and open about who we are
· We don’t assume to know, what someone’s personal identity or sexuality is without being told by that person
· We specify our pronouns and ask any job applicants to specify theirs at the start of a job interview
· We audit any job advertisements to make sure that our language doesn’t make anyone feel marginalised
· We work hard every single day to make sure that Drop Bear is a fair and most importantly, SAFE place for someone to come to work and be who they really are
· We refuse to work with and boycott organisations that don’t hold the same values as us
What actions do I want to see us take?
· A more formalised 365 inclusion plan for LGBTQIA+ and BAME
· Campaigns to support LGBTQIA+ organisations and causes
· Collaboration with LGBTQIA+ businesses
· Increased representation across our marketing materials
· Have more of a voice generally and a presence at Pride
The brewing industry has a long way to come in terms of diversity and I really hope to see more LGBTQIA+ representation soon. I know my team tries hard and I know that every single person in Drop Bear Beer Co. cares and wants to make this world a better place. I also know that there’s more work to be done and I can’t wait to reflect again this time next year and see how much more impact we’ve been able to make.
If you’re LGBTQIA+ and need some support, please find a list of organisations that may be able to help below:
Thank you for reading my ramblings!