The Texas Observer reports thai, according to the Wholesale
Beer Distributors of Texas, Coors sales in Austin dropped 4
between May and July, during the height of boycott activity.
I'nfortunatefy the gay boycott is beginning to weaken; many
gay bars in Texas which once boycotted Coors are once again
selling it. Indeed the Advocate, for reasons that are not altogether
clear, recommends the boycott he left to "individual conscience. "
Yet if the relative freedom gay people have won over the past few
rears is not to be lost in the current wave of right-wing activity,
we must learn to identify right-wing activists. To buy or not to
buy t 'oors may indeed be a matter of individual conscience.
Hut collective action springs from a multitude of informed
individual consciences; and only collective action achieves results.
when a hastily organized but sizeable contingent of lesbians and
gay men joined a march in Austin of about 700 people to protest
the tatesl in a sickeningly long series of police killings of Chicanos,
this time in Houston. Although homosexual victims oT police
brutality often are not identified as gay in news accounts, it is
common knowledge that being visibly gay is in many places
little different from being black or brown in encounters with the
police. We gay people who joined (he march recognized that
the murder of Jose' Campos Torres was not merely a Chicano
problem but a common problem, that despite differences between
us and the rest of the marchers, we were joined with them in
our revulsion at the baibarism of the police and judicial system.
The most prominent alliances formed by gay organizations since
Stonewall have been with women's groups, and lesbians have always
been an invaluable part of those groups. A recent project of the Klan,
the Birchers, and less histrionic organizations was the infiltration and
disruption of the National Women's Conference in Houston. It's
hardly surprising that gay people, male and female, should see the
events in Houston as of the greatest importance. There were many
homosexuals, including members of the Society for the Advancement
of Freedom and Equality (SAFE), Austin Lesbian Feminist Organization (ALFO), Gay Community Services (GCS), and the Lesbian-
Gay Alliance, at the conference itself and at related events.
Like other gay political activities, the Coors boycott clearly
demonstrates that we have much in common with racial and ethnic
minorities. Since the Coors family has complete control ot the
brewery and the numerous other Coors businesses-the ceramics
factory, the construction company, the rice farms, etc.-it is
impossible to separate Coors family politics from Coors products
and business practices. There is a long list o\ accusations from
Chicanos and blacks of discriminatory hiring practices by the Coors
company. At the Senate hearings on Coors's nomination to the
board o\ tlic Corporation for Public Broadcasting (he was nominated
by Richard Nixon on his last day in office), Ralph David Abernathy,
national president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,
said in opposing Coors's confirmation, "Our opposition comes
because research and factual evidence prove beyond a doubt that
Mr. Coors and his TVN network has been racist and anti-black."
The G.I. Forum. a predominantly Chicano organization, has been
boycotting Coors beer for nine years. Paul Gonzalez of the Forum's
"Have you ever been involved with homosexuals
national boycott committee has said, "That family has always had
racist ways. In the '30s, they used to have Ku Klux Klan meetings
at the brewery." Dr. William E. Hanks, NAACP media coordinator
at the University of Pittsburgh and one-time resident of Denver,
said, "The feeling of Chicanos who are familiar with the Coors
operations are quite negative based on Coors's consistently prejudicial hiring practices against blacks and Chicanos."
According to sworn statements from a Coors employee and to
testimony before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 1970,
William Coors urged his employees at a meeting in 1964 to write
their congressmen opposing the Civil Rights Act. claiming that its
passage would result in the replacement of white workers by blacks.
Although the gay boycott against Coors began several years ago
in San Francisco, a new and major impetus for the boycott was
a strike last April by 1,400 Coors brewery workers. Their strike is
not over the usual wage issues, but over matters whose importance
homosexuals should be quick to recognize. Many American
corporations screen prospective employees with the lie detector
test, but few require employees to reveal intimate details of
their lives, including their sex lives, to the extent Coors has.
According to sworn statements from people who have taken the
tests, Coors asks questions like, "'Have you ever cheated on your
wife?"; "Did you have relations with your wife last night?";
"Have you ever done anything with your wife that could be considered immoral? "; "Is there anything in your past that you could
be blackmailed for?"; "Have you ever been involved with homosexuals?"
and "Are you a homosexual?" One man swears in an affadavit that as
a Coors employee he attended a meeting at which William Coors stated
explicitly that the purpose of the lie detector test was to "eliminate
the employment of homosexuals in the Adolph Coors Company."
To speak of an alliance between workers, gay people, blacks,
and Chicanos is to invite the accusation that one is using the radical
rhetoric of ten years ago. But many recent gay political activities-
the Coors boycott among them-have shown that both principle
and pragmatism require us to recognize how much we have in common
with other groups which suffer unfair treatment in a society geared
to the demands of white heterosexual males.
We would like to thank
Ethel Little for most kindly
consenting to model. The gentleman in white is Steve flwmas.
■•■aphs are by the author