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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fullsteam Brewery to Withdraw from State Promotional Programs over HB 2

Posted by on Thu, Mar 31, 2016 at 6:43 PM

click to enlarge Fullsteam's Sean Lilly Wilson, left, took a strong stand against HB 2 Wednesday. - FILE PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • File Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Fullsteam's Sean Lilly Wilson, left, took a strong stand against HB 2 Wednesday.
An astounding, reassuring number of companies, both local and global, have spoken out in opposition to HB 2. As of today, Durham's Fullsteam Brewery has joined those ranks and even gone a step beyond denouncing the discriminatory law.

Fullsteam is a distinctly local operation; about 40 percent of its ingredients, from persimmon to honey to basil, come from North Carolina or the greater South. As owner of Fullsteam, Sean Lilly Wilson has often assisted with media missions that promote North Carolina travel and tourism, serving as an emissary for North Carolina craft beer.

But today, Wilson announced on his personal Facebook page that he won't be doing that anymore, at least until HB 2 gets out of his laws. He has requested that the state cease featuring Fullsteam in promotional efforts associated with North Carolina. And Wilson said Fullsteam would not participate in the North Carolina State Fair or the Got to be NC Festival until the law is "overturned, reversed, or modified to shed its malicious intent." 

Later this afternoon, Wilson was reluctant to elaborate much beyond his original post. He seemed concerned that saying too much would come across as pandering, or, as he wrote in his post, that it would "bring too much attention to ourselves, and not the audiences I believe HB2 marginalizes."

But we kept asking, and he rolled a bit. 

"I was careful to make sure all the things we're not going to participate in are managed either directly by the executive branch of the state government, or through a private-public arrangement with the executive branch [such as the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which puts together the aforementioned media missions]," Wilson said.

In other words, stuff overseen by McCrory. 

"This is not a great metaphor, but think of the ACC," Wilson said. "We all have our basketball loyalties. Sometimes it's smart for business owners to chill out and keep to themselves their personal preferences about which team they like. They want to make sure everybody's welcome in their environment. But this isn't basketball. This is a social issue with broad implications for marginalized people. And the way it is written goes way beyond transgender rights. There's also veterans' rights, fair-wage earners."

He went on: "Unlike basketball, where one can choose to keep allegiances and alliances quiet, this is people's lives, safety, well-being, identity. It's just not something I am willing to be silent on. So sometimes you have to take those chances and understand that some people may disagree with you so much that they choose not to patronize your place. Well, OK, then—see you, bye." 

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