Pop Culture

Garth Brooks doubles down after Bud Light backlash: ‘I love diversity’

Garth Brooks isn’t backing down in the face of anti-trans backlash — in fact, he’s pushing back.

The country music superstar caused a firestorm last week when he announced his new Nashville, Tenn., bar would serve “every brand of beer,” referencing last month’s saga that saw Bud Light face backlash and vitriol from conservative critics in the U.S. for partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for an Instagram ad.

Brooks first made it clear that he does not stand for the transphobic boycotts of the Anheuser-Busch brand of beer last week in a conversation with Billboard.

“I want it to be a place you feel safe in. I want it to be a place where you feel like there are manners and people like one another,” Brooks told the outlet.

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“And yes, we’re going to serve every brand of beer. We just are.”

He also had strong words for anyone who objects to the beers on tap in the Friends In Low Places Bar & Honky Tonk.

“Our thing is this: if you [are let] into this house, love one another. If you’re an a–hole, there are plenty of other places on lower Broadway.”

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The Billboard interview elicited backlash from some of Brooks’ fans, who threatened to burn his music and merchandise, and Florida’s conservative Rep. Matt Gaetz called out the star on Twitter.

On Tuesday, the country legend doubled down on his pro-LGBTQ stance during his Inside Studio G livestream, acknowledging that last week’s remarks caused “quite a little bit of a stir.”

“Everybody’s got their opinions. But inclusiveness is always going to be me,” Brooks said. “I think diversity is the answer to the problems that are here and the answer to the problems that are coming. So I love diversity. All inclusive, so all are welcome. I understand that might not be other people’s opinions, but that’s OK, man.”

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He pointed out that despite recent boycotts, Bud Light is still one of America’s most popular beers and for that reason, alone, it will be on the menu.

“So, here’s the deal, man, if you want to come to Friends in Low Places, come in. But come in with love, come in with tolerance, patience. Come in with an open mind, and it’s cool,” Brooks said.

“And if you’re one of those people that just can’t do that, I get it,” he said. “If you ever are one of those people that want to try, come.”

On April 1, Mulvaney partnered with Bud Light as part of a March Madness contest on her Instagram account. The deal, which saw Mulvaney’s face printed on a single signature blue can, sparked numerous calls for LGBTQ2 opposition to destroy their beer stockpiles and potentially boycott the brand entirely.

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Musician Kid Rock was among the most notable to criticize Bud Light for the partnership. In video posted to social media, Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, repeatedly fired an assault rifle at three cases of Bud Light. As beer bled from the bulleted blue boxes, he flipped off the camera and said, “F— Bud Light and f— Anheuser-Busch. Have a terrific day.”

Anheuser-Busch, the company that makes Bud Light, released a statement as sales started to decline amid calls for a boycott.

“We never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people. We are in the business of bringing people together over a beer,” wrote Bud Light CEO and Anheuser-Busch owner Brendan Whitworth.

The controversy surrounding Bud Light, Mulvaney and Brooks comes at a time when the rights of transgender people in the U.S. are being called into question. Republican lawmakers across the country have filed legislation seeking to restrict gender-affirming health care for trans folks, among other things. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there are currently 491 proposed anti-LGBTQ bills in the U.S.

“While not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ people,” the organization wrote.

— with files from Global News’ Sarah Do Couto

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&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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