The Durham brewery Ponysaurus thinks things are better talked out over a beer. “We believe in the basic goodness of people,” co-owner Nick Hawthorne-Johnson said. “And that beer can be a force for good.”
So when North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson referred to the LGBTQ community as “filth” in recent months, the brewery said, “Bless his heart.”
In response it set up the “Lieutenant Governor’s Fund for the Fabulous,” on Robinson’s behalf. The brewery is donating a portion of sales from its beer, Don’t Be Mean to People: A Golden Rule Saison, to LGBTQ organizations. On the website for the campaign, the brewery encourages people to “post a toast” to the lieutenant governor on social media “thanking him for all the work he’s doing through the #fundforthefabulous.”
“We believe in the goodness of everyone, even people who aren’t in touch with what’s going on,” said Hawthorne-Johnson. “What (Robinson) said doesn’t make him a bad person, it makes him mistaken. I think he can get to a place of understanding, no matter how inappropriate, out of touch and old-fashioned his comments are.”
An Invitation to Robinson
Ponysaurus has also invited Robinson to the brewery for a beer and conversation. “We disagree with the lieutenant governor, but we’re not going to be mean about it,” Hawthorne-Johnson said. “There’s no need for that. When we talk about things, we get to a point of greater understanding.” The Fund for the Fabulous has been set up by Ponysaurus and Raleigh ad agency Baldwin&.
Promotional videos were shot two weeks ago, Hawthorne-Wood said.
Beer Created During HB2 Debate
In 2016, Ponysaurus, along with the former Mystery Brewing Company and around 50 other North Carolina breweries, created the “Don’t Be Mean to People” beer in response to the state’s House Bill 2, a controversial law that restricted localities’ ability to enact non-discrimination laws and centered around which bathrooms transgender citizens were allowed to use. A portion of that beer’s sales have gone to multiple LGBTQ organizations in the years since, Hawthorne-Johnson said, raising approximately $50,000. “Don’t be mean to people” is a modern translation of the Golden Rule, Hawthorne-Johnson said, adding that he didn’t think Robinson’s comments lived up to that. “I think we’ve all become desensitized to horrifically denigrating and disrespectful language,” Hawthorne-Johnson said. “This is his opinion of his own constituents. It’s not okay to say those things.”
A video of a speech Robinson, a Republican, made in June at a Seagrove church surfaced in October and quickly went viral. “There’s no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling children about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson said during the speech. “Yes, I called it filth.” Those comments led some to call for Robinson’s resignation. Robinson, who is expected to run for governor in 2024, again came under fire in November with comments he made about LGBTQ+ people at a Winston-Salem church. According to a video of the sermon, he questioned the “purpose” of being gay and said heterosexual couples are “superior” to gay couples
Robinson’s office has not responded to a request for comment. The Fund for the Fabulous appeared light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek, but Hawthorne-Johnson said the invitation is sincere. “It’s light and seems like a joke, but it’s not a joke,” Hawthorne-Johnson said. “I do want to hear from him. I would love to sit down and hear why people are filth in his eyes.”