Transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney says she felt abandoned by Bud Light after facing “more bullying and transphobia than I could have ever imagined” over her partnership with the beer giant.
In a video posted Thursday to Instagram and TikTok, she said she “was waiting for the brand to reach out to me. But they never did.” She said she should have spoken out sooner but was afraid and hoped things would get better — but they didn’t.
“For months now, I’ve been scared to leave my house,” Mulvaney said. “I have been ridiculed in public. I’ve been followed, and I have felt a loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
Anheuser-Busch didn’t directly respond to Mulvaney in a statement the company released Friday. But it said it remains “committed to the programs and partnerships we have forged over decades with organizations across a number of communities, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.”
A deluge of criticism and hate erupted soon after Mulvaney cracked open a Bud Light in an Instagram video on April 1 as part of a promotional contest for the beer brand. She showed off a can emblazoned with her face that Bud Light sent to her — one of many corporate freebies she gets and shares with her millions of followers.
Conservative figures and others called for a boycott of Bud Light, while Mulvaney’s supporters criticized the beer brand for not doing enough to support her.
In the four weeks ending June 17, Bud Light’s U.S. retail sales had slumped 26% compared with the same period a year ago, according to Bump Williams Consulting, which follows the industry. Sales of Modelo Especial, which recently supplanted Bud Light as the country’s best-selling beer in retail dollar sales, rose 9% in the same period. Modelo’s market share was 8.4%, while Bud Light’s was 7.1%.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest advocacy group for LGBTQ+ rights, also suspended its benchmark equality and inclusion rating for Anheuser-Busch, a subsidiary of Belgian brewer AB InBev.
“For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse, in my opinion, than not hiring a trans person at all — because it gives customers permission to be as transphobic and hateful as they want,” Mulvaney said, without naming Bud Light.
In its statement, Anheuser-Busch said it prioritizes the safety and privacy of its employees and partners and that moving forward, it will focus on brewing “beer for everyone and earning our place in moments that matter to our consumers.”
Other companies, including Target and Starbucks, have recently come under fire for their efforts to appeal to the LGBTQ+ community, especially during June’s Pride celebrations, only to face more outcry when they tried to backpedal.
The clashes come amid a furious and fast-spreading debate over the rights of transgender people. At least 17 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care for minors, most since the start of this year.