Miller Lite releases book celebrating history of U.S. queer bars

Miller Lite can add “publisher” to its resume, as it releases a new book that chronicles the history of queer bars in America

“Beers and Queer History,” written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and historian Dr. Eric Cervini, was officially released today, marking the beer brand’s latest effort to show its support for the LGBTQ+ community.

A 27-page hardcover coffee table book, “Beers and Queer History” highlights the little-known backstories of 10 iconic bars, from New York’s Stonewall Inn to Panic Bar in Lincoln, Neb. It’s available now on Miller Lite’s online store for $19.33; all proceeds benefit Equality Federation.

“These bars were key meeting places where people felt at home. They offered safety, security and a sense of belonging that their patrons couldn’t necessarily get elsewhere,” says James Nanney, senior marketing manager for Miller Lite. “We’re showcasing the history of these bars, but they’re just as important today as they were 50 years ago.”

For Cervini, the book continued his exploration of LGBTQ+ history— work that’s won him acclaim over his career as a historian, author, scholar and media personality.

“It was thrilling as a historian to get an opportunity to dive into the stories of one of my favorite topics, historical queer spaces,” he says. “I’m honored to share these stories in partnership with Miller Lite as queer history so often goes unshared with mainstream society.”

The book is part of Miller Lite’s “Open & Proud” campaign, which combines public outreach and education to help make bars safer, more inclusive places for the LGBTQ+ community.

Miller Lite worked with Equality Federation to host listening sessions last year in cities across the country, hoping to learn more about issues that LGBTQ+ drinkers face and how it can best support them. (It plans to host 15 more events this year, Nanney says.) The result is a collection of training materials that the brand is making available to the 50,000 U.S. bars that serve Miller Lite.

Miller Lite last year donated $250,000 to Equality Federation to help advance workplace fairness and equity for LGBTQ+ individuals at national and local levels.

Open & Proud is Miller Lite’s latest overture to the LGBTQ+ community, which it has supported for decades. In the 1970s, it backed San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair and started sponsoring Pride parades in 1997, staring with New York City’s.

Parent company Molson Coors Beverage Company has carried that baton, as well, earning a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 19 years running. The company was one of the first in the beverage industry to offer same-sex domestic partner benefits more than 20 years ago. This year, in Canada, it included gender-affirming care to its benefits package.

“Miller Lite is a brand that prides itself on authenticity and supporting people living their most authentic lives is in line with that ethos,” Nanney says. “We are focusing on true allyship, not just for one month of the year.”