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US startup launches ‘Gay Water’ canned cocktails amid Bud Light backlash

Exclusive: "Our mission is to destigmatize the word 'gay'," its creator says.

By Dale Fox

Cans of Gay Water with a rainbow background
Gay Water is a US startup selling canned vodka-soda drinks (Image: Gay Water)

A US startup has launched an alcoholic drink delightfully named ‘Gay Water’, in the wake of trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney receiving major backlash for promoting beer Bud Light.

Created by former Yahoo! and Verizon marketing exec Spencer Hoddeson, Gay Water is a vodka and soda-based canned drink that comes in four flavours.

Its name is based on a popular US colloquism for the short drink.

Hoddeson, who identifies as a gay male, told Attitude he created Gay Water in response to a lack of representation.

“Growing up, I only ever heard the word gay in a negative context. As camp as the Hilary Duff, ‘That’s So Gay’ PSA has now become, it rings true to the experience that I and many other queer millennials felt in their most formative years – the word ‘gay’ was a bad one,” he told us.

“Our mission is to destigmatize the word ‘gay’ by making it visible daily at your restaurant, bar, liquor store, grocery store, and home. The way to reclaim a word is by using it and owning it, rather than pushing it into the back of a closet.”

Gay Water is currently available online in the US and in limited stores. A global roll-out isn’t yet planned, though “would be a dream”, Hoddeson said.

Fighting bigoted backlash

The launch comes just months after Dylan Mulvaney became the centre of a hate campaign for promoting Bud Light. This included a video posted by singer Kid Rock taking a machine gun to cans of the product.

Additionally, following a massive online backlash, Bud Light lost its spot as the US’ top-selling beer. Sales tumbled by a massive 25 percent, according to a report published by the Guardian.

“The key issue that Bud Light tapped into was the fact that they didn’t understand their core audience and know enough about them,” Hoddeson told CNN.

However, Gay Water, which was in development a year before the Bud Light incident, wasn’t launched as a direct response to it.

Hoddleson explained to us: “As a beverage, Gay Water is for anyone who isn’t afraid of the word ‘gay’, because it’s not a scary word – its original (and still one of its current) definition is ‘happy’.”

Gay Water comes in lime, watermelon, peach and grapefruit flavours and is available online in the US from the company’s website.