Hollis Bulleit, the lesbian daughter of Bulleit Bourbon founder Tom Bulleit, has accused her family of cutting her out the family business for being gay.
In a series of Facebook posts, Bulleit detailed how she and her partner Cher were blocked from the family and the Bulleit Bourbon business over the course of their relationship.
Bulleit begins by saying her position at the company was terminated in December 2016 without warning. Bulleit had worked for her family company for 25 years including as the Bourbon’s “global ambassador” starting in 2010. She mentions that she received no special send-off from her family and co-workers and that Cher was not invited to the grand opening of a Bulleit Bourbon store, an effort Bulleit says she played a huge part in opening.
“I sat and watched my beloved cry for one of the rare times in our decade long partnership when she saw photos of my stepbrother’s girlfriend (who seems like a lovely person) of less than a year who had a printed sign and assigned seat. Cher had nothing. We were erased and no one lifted a finger. To this day I have no footprint to my name, no commemorative brick, not even a proper going away party. This seems highly unfair, but also like bad business. For the years of free artwork I gave and made from my heart, this has been a heartless and unnecessarily punitive ending that has continued well past December of 2016,” Bulleit writes.
“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,” Bulleit continues. “In the course of ten years Cher and I spent less than three weeks time in the company of the Bulleit family.
She went on to say she does not want to work for another bourbon company because she still feels loyalty to her family. However, she cannot start her own brand because her last name is trademarked and her skills are only suited for work in this industry. Bulleit receives no financial support from her family.
Although it took her awhile to speak out, Bulleit encourages people to call out homophobia to protect themselves.
“I should never have been put in a position to hide my family’s homophobia or my company’s complacency in order to keep my job. I did nothing wrong. I have nothing to be ashamed of. But the punishments, the silent treatments, and the threats continue. When you chose to be silent in the face of this type of behavior you are not being well mannered. You are choosing to hide because you can and you are protecting yourself,” Bulleit says.