Non-Queer Beer

Bud Light abandons trans folks and partners with anti-gay comic

If you thought Bud Light was an ally, think again: The beer brand has made yet another mystifying PR choice.

This time, Bud Light is partnering with controversial comedian Shane Gillis. Gillis is best known not for any job he’s had, but for one that he’s lost: he was fired from Saturday Night Live in 2019. Gillis was hired as a series regular alongside fan favorites Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman, but just hours after his casting announcement, clips surfaced of him using racist and homophobic slurs on a podcast. A few days later, SNL announced it was booting Gillis from the show.

Gillis didn’t take the cue to apologize. Instead, he doubled down on his views, writing in a social media post that he was simply a “comedian who pushes boundaries.”

“If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses,” Gillis continued in the since deleted post. “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said. My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”

Hot tip for Gillis: When those “risks” are offensive slurs, it’s better to play it safe.

Now, Gillis is Bud Light’s newest partner. On Instagram, Gillis posted a series of pictures of him at a Bud Light brewery with the caption, “Excited to announce partnership with Bud Light.” 

Bud Light also posted about Gillis, writing, “Welcome to the team @shanemgillis, excited to be a part of your 2024 tour.”

Via @shanemgillis on Instagram.

It’s a wild swing in the wrong direction for Bud Light, which came under fire last year for its partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. She was the subject of vicious hatred from right-wingers online, and Bud Light never so much as reached out to offer her support, as Mulvaney later revealed in a TikTok.

After the backlash toward Mulvaney, Bud Light’s parent company Anheuser-Busch addressed its stance on making political statements through partnerships. In an earnings call, the company’s CEO Michel Doukeris laid out what they’d learned from the controversy. 

“Our consumers across all sentiment groups have three points of feedback in common,” Doukeris said. “One, they want to enjoy their beer without a debate. Two, they want Bud Light to focus on beer. Three, they want Bud Light to concentrate on the platforms that all consumers love, such as NFL, Fields of Honor, and music.”

And yet, Bud Light seems fine to be working with a figure like Gillis, who’s made plenty of controversial political statements (unlike Mulvaney, whose only controversy is the fact of her transness). If Bud Light was hoping to avoid upsetting any consumers through its marketing, it’s getting off on the wrong foot.

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