Transgender TikTok sensation Dylan Mulvaney addressed the public on Thursday regarding her controversial collaboration with Bud Light, marking her first statement since the partnership sparked a nationwide boycott. Mulvaney criticized the company for failing to support her amidst the backlash from right-wing figures, causing the campaign to be portrayed as an example of companies embracing “wokeness.”
In a video shared months after the outrage ignited among conservative pundits, celebrities, and customers, Mulvaney revealed that she never received any communication from Bud Light after she became the target of personal attacks for endorsing the beer brand.
Expressing her disappointment, Mulvaney stated that when a company hires a transgender person but fails to publicly stand up for them, it is, in her opinion, worse than not hiring a transgender person at all. She argued that this lack of support grants customers the permission to exhibit transphobia and spread hate.
Mulvaney emphasized the extent of bullying and transphobia she experienced following the release of the video, far surpassing her expectations. She admitted that fear of further backlash and a personal sense of guilt delayed her response to the controversy.
Mulvaney further revealed the distress she endured, recounting instances of being followed, publicly ridiculed, and living in constant fear that prevented her from leaving her own home. She described the overwhelming loneliness she experienced, a feeling she wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
In a statement to Forbes, an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson affirmed the company’s commitment to their programs and partnerships, including those within the LGBTQ+ community. They emphasized that the privacy and safety of their employees and partners always remain their top priority.
When questioned about the Mulvaney campaign’s implications, CEO Brendan Whitworth, during an interview with CBS Mornings, emphasized the brand’s objective of uniting people but declined to directly address whether the partnership was a mistake.
Dylan Mulvaney, a former Broadway actress, has been chronicling her gender transition on TikTok for over a year. With nearly 11 million followers, Mulvaney has gained partnerships with various brands and made media appearances. To mark the one-year milestone of her transition, Mulvaney hosted a live variety show at the iconic Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. In April, Anheuser-Busch collaborated with Mulvaney to create a TikTok video for the Bud Light brand, featuring a Bud Light can adorned with her face. However, this partnership ignited a firestorm from the far right, with figures like Kid Rock launching tirades against the company, even shooting cans of Bud Light in a profanity-laden video. Shortly after, Mulvaney announced a collaboration with Nike, which further fueled conservative backlash and calls for boycotts, including from Olympic athletes Sharron Davies and Caitlyn Jenner, who is also a transgender woman.
The controversy surrounding Mulvaney’s partnerships prompted numerous public figures to either support or denounce the brand. Country music star Travis Tritt declared that he would no longer sell Anheuser-Busch products at his concerts, while artist John Rich removed cases of Bud Light from his Nashville bar. Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly responded to a video of Mulvaney, asserting that it is God who “allows” people to be women. On the other hand, musician Jason Isbell and country stars Zach Bryan and Garth Brooks expressed their support for the partnership.
In response to the controversy, Senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) initiated a Senate investigation last month to determine if Bud Light’s collaboration with Mulvaney violated regulations prohibiting the advertising of alcohol to minors. In a letter to the Beer Institute’s Code Compliance Review Board, Cruz claimed that the partnership targeted minors as many of Mulvaney’s fans are under 21 years old.
Mulvaney addressed the backlash in a video on Thursday, adamantly asserting her love for beer and refusing to tolerate any claims otherwise. The fallout from the controversy has affected Bud Light’s standing in the U.S. beer market, with sales of Bud Light and Budweiser dropping 24.6% and 9.2%, respectively, leading to the brand losing its top spot.