Bil Browning

We Win!! Rockstar Energy Drink to Donate $100K+ to LGBT Orgs & Bloggers

Filed By Bil Browning | July 09, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Site News
Tags: Gay and Lesbian Community Center, GLSEN, Michael Jones, Michael Savage, PFLAG, Rockstar drink, Rockstar Energy Drink, Russ Weiner, Trevor Project

I'm pleased to post a joint press release from Rockstar Energy Drink, change.org, and Bilerico Project today. The beverage company will not be suing Bilerico Project or change.org and they have expanded or started many new LGBT positive corporate policies - including non-discrimination clauses and domestic partner benefits. Rockstar will be donating $100k to three LGBT organizations and has agreed to make a significant donation to the LGBT Bloggers Initiative as well.

rockstar.jpgROCKSTAR Energy Drink CEO Russell Weiner announced today that the beverage company will expand its LGBT corporate policies and make $100,000 in donations, shared among several prominent LGBT organizations. The donations represent a significant contribution given ROCKSTAR's relatively small staff of 120 employees.

The contribution will be shared among the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and The Trevor Project, and ROCKSTAR Energy Drink will also financially sponsor the National LGBT Bloggers Initiative. The donations and affirmation of LGBT-friendly corporate policies mark steps by ROCKSTAR to demonstrate support for the LGBT community.

"It has recently come to ROCKSTAR's attention that there might be a misconception about our company's policy and my personal support for LGBT rights," said Weiner. "We apologize for that misunderstanding, and want to make clear today that our company fully supports our LGBT employees and our LGBT customers."

"Some have erroneously associated our company with offensive language directed at LGBT people, specifically statements coming from Michael Savage, who is not and has never been a shareholder or officer of ROCKSTAR Energy Drink. On behalf of our company and directors, including myself and CFO Janet Weiner, I would like to take this opportunity to disavow any offensive statements directed toward LGBT people, including statements from Michael Savage. ROCKSTAR assures our customers and the general public that our brand will never be associated with any language that does not affirm the essential dignity of every person in our diverse national community."

(Joint press release continues after the jump.)

In response to encouragement from bloggers, including social change media site Change.org and LGBT news site The Bilerico Project (bilerico.com), ROCKSTAR Energy Drink is expanding its corporate policies related to LGBT issues. In addition to reaffirming its corporate anti-discrimination and equal opportunity employment policies, which include protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, ROCKSTAR has announced that it has included an LGBT component in their company's corporate-wide diversity training and will begin to offer company resources for employees who may want to start an LGBT workplace group.

Additionally, ROCKSTAR will continue to offer domestic partnership benefits to LGBT employees, a company policy that has been in place since ROCKSTAR Energy Drink was founded in 2000. Under this policy, LGBT employees in domestic partnerships receive the same benefits coverage as heterosexual married employees, as well as the same protections afforded under the company's sick leave, bereavement, leave for victims of domestic and sexual violence, and family military leave policies.

"These policies demonstrate that ROCKSTAR is committed to equality in the workplace," said Weiner. "But while corporate policies are one plank in the struggle for equality, we recognize that supporting the LGBT population requires an even greater effort."

To this end, Weiner announced that ROCKSTAR has pledged to give $50,000 to The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, a community-based organization which supports and promotes activities directed at furthering the well being, positive image, and human rights of the LGBT community and its allies in Southern Nevada, near ROCKSTAR's office in Las Vegas.

ROCKSTAR has also committed $25,000 to Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, and The Trevor Project, a leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth. Both gifts will be disbursed in 2010.

On top of these donations, ROCKSTAR Energy Drink will contribute $12,500 to sponsor the National LGBT Blogger Initiative, which provides training and support for LGBT bloggers, and pledges to support LGBT-related pride festivals in the future. These contributions are in addition to the $25,000 Weiner recently gave to Project Open Hand, a San Francisco charitable organization that works closely with LGBT communities on HIV/AIDS outreach.

"We're grateful for the opportunity to support the work of these organizations, who are at the forefront of the struggle for LGBT rights in this country," said Weiner. "We are proud to enhance our corporate policies and contribute to these organizations, and we hope that these actions clear up any misunderstanding or misconceptions about ROCKSTAR's support of the LGBT population."

Candice Nichols, the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, said that ROCKSTAR's contribution to the Center shows its commitment to LGBT rights and will be immensely helpful in serving the needs of the LGBT community in its hometown of Las Vegas and throughout Southern Nevada.

"We are pleased to see ROCKSTAR taking bold steps as a company to ensure the dignity and self-worth of LGBT people, both within their own corporate policies and within the city where they are incorporated," said Nichols. "ROCKSTAR's contribution to the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada will help our organization continue to provide vital services to the LGBT population of this area, including services for LGBT youth. During these tough economic times, we appreciate the significance of ROCKSTAR's contribution and look forward to working with them as a partner down the road to continue to support the needs of Southern Nevada's LGBT population."

Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN, said that ROCKSTAR's efforts to expand support for LGBT employees and the local LGBT community are significant steps in the right direction.

"GLSEN is very pleased to have helped reach an agreement that immediately benefits the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, a community center that serves the needs of LGBT people in ROCKSTAR's own backyard," said Byard. "ROCKSTAR seems sincere in its efforts to affirm the dignity of its LGBT employees and the greater LGBT community, and in its recognition of the damage language can cause - damage that GLSEN confronts daily in its work in K-12 schools. We look forward to seeing continued evidence of this commitment in the weeks and months ahead, and to accepting their contribution next year so long as they continue upholding the principles they've publicly articulated."

Charles Robbins, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project, also said that ROCKSTAR is taking the right steps to partner with LGBT organizations.

"The Trevor Project is pleased that ROCKSTAR is moving in the right direction to act as a responsible corporate citizen that truly embraces diversity," said Robbins. "It is important to recognize that the kind of offensive language which ROCKSTAR has now disassociated itself with can be truly dangerous, especially to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth who remain at a higher risk for suicide. Whenever a company or individual supports our work, we know that it is lifesaving, and we look forward to the impact that ROCKSTAR's systemic support will have in our community for years to come."

Michael Rogers, the Founder of the National LGBT Bloggers Initiative, echoed these sentiments. "I'm excited to see that ROCKSTAR Energy Drink is not only committed to positive messages about LGBT Americans, but that they have demonstrated that commitment with generous support of community organizations. I applaud the company's recognition of the unique partnerships that can be built between corporations and online activists and their goal of working for positive social change."

For its part, Change.org has been working with ROCKSTAR Energy Drink over the past few weeks to make a bold statement on behalf of LGBT rights. Both Change.org's CEO, Ben Rattray, and Gay Rights blogger Michael Jones, have been leading discussions with ROCKSTAR.

"ROCKSTAR's show of support for LGBT rights and Russ Weiner's significant financial contribution demonstrate that the company is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen when it comes to equal rights for its employees and its customers," said Rattray. "This is a model for other companies to follow who wish to make it unequivocally clear that they support equal rights for all."

Jones added that discussions between ROCKSTAR and Change.org have shown that the company is solidly behind equal rights.

"The overtures made by ROCKSTAR and Russell Weiner to foster an LGBT-friendly workplace, and well as the generous contribution to leading LGBT organizations indicates a level of engagement with LGBT rights that should be commended," said Jones. "This is a great example of how bloggers, companies and LGBT organizations can work together to foster equal rights."

Bil Browning, Editor-In-Chief of the popular LGBT group blog The Bilerico Project (bilerico.com), echoed these sentiments. "I'm pleased to see ROCKSTAR is taking steps to ensure all their employees and customers are treated with dignity and respect. ROCKSTAR's commitment to continuing multi-year support of the LGBT community through both organizational and blogger outreach demonstrates their willingness to move beyond any misunderstandings surrounding their company. Not many companies would be willing to reach out to their main critics and find common ground for a solution that leaves all parties satisfied; ROCKSTAR should be commended for their eagerness to correct any previous problems."

Big thanks to Ben Rattray and Michael Jones from change.org and Rockstar CEO Russell Weingold for working with me to settle our differences and spotlight our commonalities. It's our honor to have facilitated a positive solution for LGBT citizen journalists, cash-strapped community orgs and the beverage company.


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Though I know he can't comment about it on-air without adversely affecting his son's company's position, I'd _love_ to be a fly on the wall in Michael Savage's green room. I'm sure it'd be quite a treat.

Good to hear that the suit ended positively, though!

Congratz to everyone involved.
I'm glad to see everything resolved and that a very reasonable solution was formed between all the parties.

Kevin Erickson | July 9, 2009 1:48 PM

That amount of money is a drop in the bucket for Weiner and Rockstar.

Meanwhile Michael Savage continues to spew his hatred every day.

Bil, you totally got played here.

If nothing else they have learned that these waters can be deep and that they need to have a care if they want to swim.

Are you sure you want to characterize this as if their donation makes them losers?

This is so great to hear! Victories like this help build positive momentum for the movement. Congratulations.

Great job, Bil. You all took a lot of crap for this story and I'm gratified to know that when truth is on your side, persistence pays off. Love the new pic, btw.

So Rockstar has gone from "We're gonna sue your asses off" to "Here's some money for LGBT causes."

Sounds like a victory to me. But I'd like to know a few of the things that Weingold actually said to the people who were working to resolve those "differences," what tone he struck, etc.

Wait, the LGBT bloggers initiative... Did they literally call up Bolthouse Farms and ask what to do?

Pressure works! now let's put some more pressure on Obama!

Congrats, Bil and everyone involved.

It is all wonderful and good that Rockstar is throwing some money at gay organizations. They know that they will make the money back easily.

What concerns me is that "Mrs. Michael Savage" works at Rockstar as CFO and probably brings home a hefty salary and bonus.
Living in a community property state, this means that Mr. Michael Savage benefits from every Rockstar you buy.

Now I know we cannot always buy products that are clean and green but when I see a direct connection like this one, it usually moves me to find an alternative.

Thanks, but I will continue to pass on Rockstar. (I used to buy it frequently and it made my partner very unhappy when I banned it from our home.)

Amen, djbearsf.

If Rockstar had announced that they were relieving "Mrs. Michael Savage" (aka Mommy) of her duties as CFO, then I would believe that they were truly serious about this issue, but alas, they did not.

I'm glad that they are taking some small steps into the 21st century in terms of non-discrimination policies and training, however.

I'm also mildly pleased that they are tossing into gay non-profits' coffers a tiny percentage of the millions of dollars they stood to lose from a full-fledged queer boycott.

I'm really happy they're no longer threatening to sue Bil and the others.

However, don't be fooled.

Michael Savage is still a hatemonger and his household does indeed benefit from sales of Rockstar.

If you are a consumer of energy drinks, there are options. Coca-Cola (who repeatedly scores 100% on HRC's Corporate Equality Index), for instance, makes Full Throttle and Tab Energy.

You have the power. Vote with your pocketbook.

McBrewster | July 9, 2009 5:03 PM

Rockstar still tastes like ass.

And not in a good way.

..."Some have erroneously associated our company with offensive language directed at LGBT people, specifically statements coming from Michael Savage, who is not and has never been a shareholder or officer of ROCKSTAR Energy Drink...

From this quote one wouldn't have a clue that Michael Savage is the father of Russel Weiner

I think we should take the money and then go out for a cup of coffee.

This seems to be my week to week to make and correct f*ck-ups. I previously expressed some pessimism on this matter. I am extremely happy that I was wrong.

I sent a note to Tony Guilfoyle at Rockstar which he responded to promptly and graciously.

Congratulations to Mike Rogers and everyone involved at Bilerico and Change.org. This is a very satisfying result.

Chrissypoo | July 10, 2009 1:28 AM

Still will be drinking Monster and Red Bull

Well us gay people can keep buying Rockstar drinks making Michael Savage's son wealthy beyond our imagination. He can buy a huge home in Beverly Hills and his Dad, MICHAEL SAVAGE, can come over and basque in the sun by his son's olympic size swimming pool. After after a full day of hate speech against gays one needs a break.

Like someone said above, Rockstar still tastes awful compared to other energy drinks.

At least a few of my friends will be happy knowing I'm not going to outright slap them for drinking the stuff.

I was also concerned, because Hot Topic (which has always been LGBT friendly) is co-sponsoring a concert series this summer with Rockstar, and was wondering if a boycott of that event would be in effect.

Sofonda Cox | July 10, 2009 5:05 PM

Question: Is Rockstar giving more money to GLBT events than other energy drinks. I'll bet not. I think some gay bloggers checks in the mail from Russle Weiner. Bil? Mike Rogers?

let me lay it out for you. If you drink the shit, Michael Savage's whole family gets richer.

We didn't win, Micheal Savage's family won. They will get a laugh over this with a can of Rockstar and vodka on the rocks.

Hi Bil

Thanks not caving to pressure and threats of a lawsuit by Rockstar's lawyers. I'm so very proud of you for not only standing up to them, but, in succeeding in getting them to make a much needed donation of 100K to GLBT orgs, good for you my friend. Your a true hero, thanks for all you do for our community.

In 2003, I created a section of my website back in 2003 titled "No 2 Hate Radio - Michael Savage". Where I posted the video clip of Savage's despicable anti-gay assault on caller East Coast Bob. Which resulted in his hate filled MSNBC program being cancelled. If you and any of your readers wish to view the video, it's posted at http://www.tampabaycoalition.com/no2hate.html.

In Peace Pride & Full Equality

R. Zeke Fread
Director Pride Tampa Bay & Tampa Bay Coalition

Two words. Coors Beer.

No matter how much money they give nor how they kiss up they are still a right wing company.

And like most right wingers they are whores who would do anything for a buck.

I will never ever purchase their product. I will bad mouth it until the end of time.

Just as I do Coors.

There is no amount of money Coors could give nor anything they could do to make up for the fact that Coors family money begat The Heritage Foundation. The Coors family continues their support giving $100,000 annually.

For anyone who is unfamiliar, from PublicEye.org:
"In 1973, the Heritage Foundation was founded by a group of conservative legislative aides, to serve as a "talent bank" for Republicans while they were in office, a "tax exempt refuge" when they were out of office, and a nationwide communications center among Republicans. Heritage Foundation decided early on to target members of Congress and their staffs, producing everything from one-page executive summaries and twelve-page Backgrounders to full-length books.
The Heritage Foundation journal Policy Review quickly became an influential publication within policy circles of the Right...."

"Looking back at the early days of the Christian Right shows how its roots are showing today. According to Jean Hardisty, “Much of the credit for crafting the antifeminist agenda belongs to…[Marshner, then with the] Free Congress Research and Education Foundation and Onalee Mcgraw of the Heritage Foundation."

The Free Congress Foundation also benefited greatly from Coors family cash.


The Coors family may have, for the most part, stopped funding virulent anti-gay organizations due to the gay scion, Scott Coors, but it did not stop them from funding Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative measures across the country. The right-wing continues to milk the cash cow Coors family.

Coors family members owned all the voting stock in the brewery until mergers happened with Molson and now with Miller. How much stock the Coors family owns in the current configuration is unknown to me.

I am disappointed that Coors has made inroads into gay bars and the gay rodeo(after Harvey Milk helped kick them out of SF bars) but I will never set my lips to a Coors brew.