North Carolina Brewery Launches LGBTQ-Supportive Beer, Fund

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday December 7, 2021

Here's looking at you, allyship: In response to anti-LGBTQ+ remarks by North Carolina's Lt. Governor, a local brewery has launched a new beer and fund to benefit advocacy groups, People Magazine reports.

Last June, Republican N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson told an audience at a Baptist church that LGBTQ+ people are "filth."

"There's no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth," Robinson declared, before instantly doubling down: "And yes, I called it filth. And if you don't like it that I called it filth, come see me and I'll explain it to you."

"The word 'transgenderism' is not one commonly used by the trans community and was coined by anti-transgender activists to dehumanize trans people and make being transgender sound like a condition, according to the LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD," noted political news source The Hill.

Robinson's comments triggered a cascade of condemnation, including calls for his resignation, after People For the American Way posted a video of his address online.

But the slurs also had a longer-term effect, giving rise to a new beer and an associated fund — "Fund for the Fabulous" — dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ organizations.

"As an effort to fundraise for the gay community in the wake of the remarks, Durham brewery Ponysaurus has now released a fundraiser, utilizing a beer called Don't Be Mean to People: A Golden Rule Saison, and says a portion of proceeds from sales of the beer will go to LGBTQ organizations," People relayed.

"We believe in the basic goodness of people," Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, a co-owner of the brewery, told local newspaper the News & Observer. "And that beer can be a force for good."

"On the website for the campaign, the brewery encourages people to 'post a toast' to the lieutenant governor on social media 'thanking him for all the work he's doing through the #fundforthefabulous,' " the News & Observer article went on to add.

"We believe in the goodness of everyone, even people who aren't in touch with what's going on," Hawthorne-Johnson explained, going on to opine that Robinson's remarks do not "make him a bad person, it makes him mistaken."

"I think he can get to a place of understanding, no matter how inappropriate, out of touch and old-fashioned his comments are," Hawthorne-Johnson added.

"'The Lt. Governor said some not very nice things,' the fundraiser's website reads," according to The Hill. "But Don't Be Mean to People believes in the goodness of everyone. So we know in his heart he doesn't believe other North Carolinians are 'filth.' We're so sure of it, we're helping to fund the good work that could be his greatest act in public office."

The Hill recalled that Don't Be Mean to People beer was first put on sale by Ponysaurus in 2016, "in response to North Carolina's restrictive HB2 law that aimed to limit LGBTQ+ rights. It's available for purchase on Ponysaurus' website, in packages of four or 24, or in one-sixth or one-half barrel kegs."

In keeping with the philosophy espoused by the beer (which Christians might recognize since it's inspired by classic Christian tradition), Hawthorne-Johnson explained that "We disagree with the lieutenant governor, but we're not going to be mean about it. There's no need for that."

Instead, the News-Observer noted that the brewery extended an olive branch to Robinson by inviting him for a discussion.

"When we talk about things, we get to a point of greater understanding," Hawthorne-Johnson said.

"I think we've all become desensitized to horrifically denigrating and disrespectful language," the brewery co-owner went on to lament before pointing out that Robinson's comments illuminate "his opinion of his own constituents."

"It's not OK to say those things."

However, it's a point of view the lieutenant governor seems not to embrace. As the News & Observer recalled, "Robinson, who is expected to run for governor in 2024, again came under fire in November with comments he made about LGBTQ+ people at a Winston-Salem church.

"According to a video of the sermon, he questioned the 'purpose' of being gay and said heterosexual couples are 'superior' to gay couples."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.