nly a few short years ago, Hollis Bulleit was sitting high as an heiress to one of the most popular and well-respected liquor brands in the entire world.
But today, she has been ostracized, distanced from her family entirely. Removed from communication with her parents and left on the outside of any and all business dealings.
All because of who she loves.
Earlier this week in a public Facebook post, Hollis Bulleit shared her story, detailing how close she once was with both her family and the brand and the separation she now feels from them both.
The daughter of Bulleit founder Tom Bulleit, Hollis Bulleit has been commonly referred to her as the “First Lady of Bourbon,” a title that now sits vacant after coming out as gay to her parents ten years ago.
Hollis Bulleit wrote a lengthy post detailing the events of her dismissal and how she feels the company inaccurately portrays themselves in the media as being LGBT-friendly.
While her recent declaration has garnered the most attention, this is far from the first time Hollis Bulleit has spoken out about struggles within her family and company.
According to Queerty, late last year Hollis Bulleit posted on Facebook: “On December 23, 2016 on holiday’s eve, I could never have imagined that I would get an email telling me that I was no longer working for Bulleit or representing the brand.”
In her post, Hollis wrote: "I believe that the subject of homophobia needs to be addressed based on some of the conversations on the page. One is not respecting personal family business by staying silent when people’s civil rights are at stake..."
Her post continued:
“…In 2007, Sarah Schulman wrote a groundbreaking book, The Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences. She discusses the misperception that homophobia within a familial construct is often misconstrued as private business. This perspective is the root of large spread public homophobia and leads to the acceptance of hate crimes. Since Cher and I have been together she has been excluded from ‘the family business’ from the start; yet Tom’s second wife and all of my stepbrother’s girlfriends were included in photos, event invites, and press. Even though my work events were FAMILY WORK events both parties played that to their advantage when it came to the exclusion of my family – Cher by acting as if I was a single ambassador and not a family member. In the course of ten years Cher and I spent less than three weeks time in the company of the Bulleit family…”
"...I was forced to deflect questions about my family at work events which put me in a horrible position not of my making; either through assumptions, omissions, or direct advice. The family went for years without seeing each other in private or public; we barely spoke on the phone, or exchanged emails. For example, when my step-grandmother passed I got a text. In 2008, I was asked to come home for Christmas; yet Cher was not invited..."
“…The only holiday that we attended was Thanksgiving in 2016, and then we were promptly uninvited via text from the following core family Christmas. And because family was business and intertwined with a global corporation, I find it odd that I did not benefit from the departments and safeguards that are put into place to either intervene or provide mediation or educational diversity training as would be the expected protocol for employees in this type of situation…”
"...In light of my experience, I do not understand how the company I worked for is on many of the top 10/ 50/ 100 “best places” for LGBTQIA employees to work. I’m sick of hearing stories from sales reps that I am not working because of problems I have with my family, and hearing the opposite from friends of the family who blame Diageo for the fact that I am not working. If these parties wanted to make this situation work I was ready to sign in June of 2016. Therefore, I can easily deduce that the 'problems' were only excuses..."
“…After ten years of experience, one could conclude that no one knew what to do with a non-straight woman besides ignore me and reap the benefits of my relationships and sales. Shortly after coming out the closet a decade ago not one family photo has been taken of me (or with me and Cher) with the core Bulleit family. Many events took place at the Bulleit family home with Diageo employees and no one ever said a word about what was obviously missing from photographs or the events (Cher and I). For the past decade, I have held these secrets; which have only served to exacerbate my suffering. The times I asked for help I did not receive it and soon thereafter I was out of a job. No one should have to make these choices. I gave my life to my family and my brand but I also was expected to give up my dignity.”