Miller Lite, Equality Federation unveil Open & Proud initiative to make bars safer, more inclusive

Miller Lite is teaming up with LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Equality Federation to create Open & Proud, an initiative that aims to make bars safer and more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.

The brand is donating $250,000 to Equality Federation to help advance workplace fairness and equality for LGBTQ+ individuals at national and local levels. Together, the organizations will develop training materials intended to be distributed to bar owners and employees of 55,000+ establishments across the U.S. that sell Miller Lite.

“Miller Lite is a brand that champions people being their true selves and those come-as-you-are connections,” says Lauren Cassel, associate marketing manager for Miller Lite. “We know being yourself is also really important to the LGBTQ+ community, and so we want to help consumers in those communities feel comfortable truly being their authentic selves.”

“By listening directly to the unique intersectional needs of the LGBTQ+ community, Miller Lite is aiming to create safer, more accepting spaces where we can have a direct influence – bars” Cassel says. “Miller Lite has always stood strong in support of the LGBTQ+ community, and we advocate for individuals being the most authentic versions of themselves, whoever or wherever they may be.”

Miller Lite and Equality Federation will host a series of town hall events at bars in markets across the U.S. – including Atlanta, Chicago, New York City and New Jersey – where LGBTQ+ community members will share their own experiences, and thoughts on how bars can be more inclusive. The two organizations will use feedback from these events to develop training materials for bars and restaurants across the U.S., as well as Molson Coors employees.

“We know we need to start with our own industry to lead change from the inside out,” Cassel says. “This year is all about listening and learning.”

The program continues a relationship with Equality Federation that dates back to 2017.

“Since 2017, Miller Lite has been a true advocate for our organization at the national and local level, and the brand has a deep history of being an outspoken ally for the LGBTQ+ community,” says Fran Hutchins, Equality Federation’s executive director. “Continuing our partnership, we’re excited to be supporting Open & Proud, a grassroots program that takes a listening-first approach to help address the LGBTQ community’s unique challenges and needs as it relates to bars.”

Cassel says Miller Lite wanted to do something significant for the LGBTQ+ community, the vast majority of whom find it meaningful when brands support action, rather than just creating awareness, according to research conducted by the brand.

“Lots of brands lead with awareness before they lead with impact and change,” Cassel says. “We think Open & Proud will create change directly in the communities that we serve.”

Miller Lite, as well as Molson Coors Beverage Company, have long supported the LGBTQ+ community. Miller Lite’s support dates back to the 1970s, and it first sponsored New York’s Pride parade in 1997.

Molson Coors has earned a 100 rating on the Human Right’s Campaign equality index for 18 years running.

Its Vizzy Hard Seltzer brand has also emerged as a champion of the LGBTQ+ community since it launched last spring. It has an ongoing relationship with HRC, punctuated by a $1 million donation. The brand also this month released special Pride packaging designed in concert with HRC and unveiled the first digital gift registry for trans people.

“By listening directly to the unique intersectional needs of the LGBTQ+ community, Miller Lite is aiming to create safer, more accepting spaces where we can have a direct influence – bars” Cassel says. “Miller Lite has always stood strong in support of the LGBTQ+ community, and we advocate for individuals being the most authentic versions of themselves, whoever or wherever they may be.”