Pride Month is here again and it’s time that we finally say for all to hear:
We are here, we are proudly queer-owned, and we aren’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops.
But that wasn’t always how we felt.
Groennfell Meadery was founded in 2013 by Kelly and Ricky, both of whom are bisexual. While we were open about that fact and mentioned it from time to time in videos, when the time came to stand up and shout, we didn’t.
Ricky lived in Berkeley when Prop 8 went through. Many of his friends went to bed married one night, and woke up the next morning to find out that the people of California decided that their marriage was illegal. This was a galvanizing moment in his activism. Not only were there marches, activist groups, and bumper stickers, Kelly and Ricky have both spoken publicly about their experience of being bisexual individuals in a heterosexual marriage.
And yet, when the business was formed, we were frightened. Even in Vermont in 2013, we were worried what the effect would be on our business if we were… too loud… or too proud.
We never hid our orientation and still often spoke about it, but when time came to shoot a video for Pride Month the first year, we were proud, but were definitely not as explicit as we could have been. To this day, we still haven’t shot a video or written an article for Bi-sexual Awareness Week, though we’ve talked about it every year.
We were genuinely afraid, not so much for our own personal safety (thank goodness), but for the effect it would have on our business and, potentially, our meadiacs who felt that the Mead Hall was a safe place.
Then the big change came. It wasn’t the landmark ruling in 2015, nor was it famous actors finally coming out, it was our staff. We weren’t living up to our promise to them, our company, or our customers. Putting “Proudly Queer-Owned” on a website was our first big move, but when our new marketing director came on board, she made it a non-negotiable:
If Kelly and Ricky were too frightened to stand on the rooftops and yell here in Vermont surrounded by loving friends, family, and staff, what message are we sending to our community?
If you’re wondering whether we’ve gotten trolls and hate mail after our website change, you bet we have! But we have gotten so much more love.
In fact, we get more trolls going after the fact that we’re “Proudly Woman Owned” than the fact that we’re proudly queer. (And nothing really touches the outpouring of both love and ignorance we received after our Black Lives Matter Video last year.)
We wish we had done more sooner. We felt like we were doing what we could, but we weren’t truly serving our mission of Helping the World Learn to Feast Again.
Feasting requires safety, and this is our way of telling you that no matter who you are, no matter who you love, you are safe with us and you are loved.
And yes, even to the trolls and haters, although your hate has no place here, you are still loved.
Happy Pride Month, everyone. Thank you to every brave individual who came before us to make this moment possible, now let us all come together to serve the generations to come.