Yuengling Truck
Unlike their counterparts in other East Coast cities, Baltimore’s gay bars and gay-friendly dining spots haven’t hopped on the Yuengling boycott bandwagon.

A recent survey of six gay bars and gay-friendly businesses in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood showed that none has stopped serving Yuengling Lager the way some establishments have in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Bartenders at Leon’s, The Drinkery, Flavor, City Café, Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon and Grand Central said they are still serving Yuengling, and some have it on tap. Several said they hadn’t heard there was a boycott. Others said they know about the boycott, but their owners haven’t chosen to be part of it.

“This is a free country,” said Cole Larkins, a bartender at Leon’s on Park Avenue. If customers don’t want to buy a certain brand of beer, that’s up to them, he said, but “it’s un-American to try to impose your opinions on someone else.”

“We still carry it,” said Ramses Cloud, a bartender at Grand Central. “No one is going to influence the way we run our business.”

The boycott started last month as a protest by the LGBT community against D. G. Yuengling and Company’s billionaire owner Dick Yuengling Jr., after he said he supports Donald Trump for president.  Yuengling disclosed his stance while giving a tour of Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, Pa., to Eric Trump, one of the candidate’s sons.

“Our guys are behind your father,” he told Eric Trump, according to The Reading Eagle. “We need him in there.”

After that disclosure, Pennsylvania’s first openly-gay state legislator, Brian Sims, suggested gay bars stop serving Yuengling to protest the owner’s position.

He argued that Trump’s running mate, vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, has a long anti-gay record, including support of conversion therapy, and that Trump’s agenda is “anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-racial minority and anti-equality.” Others also suggested a boycott, including Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that led to the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states.

Boycott participants in Philadelphia include Tavern on Camac, U Bar Philadelphia and The Bike Stop.

“Our communities know a thing or two about voting with our dollars, and I won’t be using my hard-earned dollars to give power to any company or person who hates me,” Sims wrote on Facebook.

The boycott subsequently spread to more than a dozen gay bars and gay-friendly eateries in Washington, including JR’s, Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, the Green Lantern, the D.C. Eagle, Town, Cobalt and Dupont Italian Kitchen.

“When people support things that don’t support us, then we don’t support them.” said JR’s bar manager, David Perruzza, in an online video.

Larkins at Leon’s said boycotting a business can be tricky if customers don’t agree with the boycott. He noted that many of Leon’s’ patrons are conservative in their views and might not appreciate the boycott.

A bartender at The Drinkery, who didn’t give his name, said the bar serves Yuengling, but “it’s not very popular.”

At least one Baltimore bar will join the boycott – as soon as it opens.

Charles King, general manager of the soon-to-open Baltimore Eagle on Charles Street, wrote Sims on Facebook to tell him that Yuengling was going to be on its menu before the endorsement of Trump. “After seeing this,” he said of Sims’ message, “I am officially taking their products off the menu.”

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Ed Gunts

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.