Arts & Entertainment
Stoli Steps Up As Michigan Pride Sponsor
By Crystal A. Proxmire
Originally printed 8/22/2013 (Issue 2134 - Between The Lines News)
LANSING - Stoli has been in a tough place lately. With LGBT people around the world looking for ways to protest against Russian human rights atrocities against gays, some have taken to the idea of boycotting Russian Vodka. The problem is that Stoli is not the Russian government, and in fact the corporation that makes Stoli Vodka actually supports LGBT equality.
The company has gone to great strides to clear its name, and Michigan LGBT people are among those Stoli wants to woo. To that end, Stoli has come on as a Main Stage Level Sponsor for the Michigan Pride 24th Annual Michigan Pride Diversity Festival.
"This sponsorship will go a long way to help Michigan Pride remain profitable, and directly assist efforts to provide a much needed LGBT Resource and Community Center to Lansing's LGBTQ+ and allied citizens," said Michigan Pride organizers in a recent press release.
"Stoli's has been a supporter of the LGBT community and LGBT events around the world for many years. By accepting this sponsorship, Michigan Pride, as well as our organization's additional sponsors, are confident that we are forging a relationship with a company that reflects similar the core values of Michigan Pride. We at Michigan Pride believe that Stoli is committed to the LGBT community. There have been constructive conversations between SPI Group, Stoli, and the Michigan Pride board of directors to express Michigan Pride's input on how Stoli can better continue to support the LGBT community, here and abroad."
Those who visit the Stoli website will see statements about the Stoli relationship with the LGBT community. A letter from CEO Val Mendeleev explains that Stoli is actually headquartered in Latvia, an independent European Union state that was once part of the Soviet Union. The letter lists sponsorships of LGBT events over the years and around the world, including in South Africa, Vienna and Tel Aviv. They have many long-term partnerships in the United States as well.
"I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry. Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community. We also thank the community for having adopted Stoli as their vodka of preference," Mendeleev wrote.
Michigan Pride takes place Aug. 24 in Lansing, and is the perfect time for people from all over the state to come together and march as one to the steps of the State Capitol. There is a march, rally and festival full of music, vendors and opportunities for connection and advocacy.
Leading the event this year will be Ross Matthews, who is known as "Ross the Intern" by his fans. Ross the Intern started out his career as an intern on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and has gone on to make regular appearances on Celebrity Fit Club, The Insider and Chelsea Lately. Ross is gay, and has written a book about his experience going from a small-town closeted kid and celebrity fan, to being famous himself. The book is called Man Up!: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence, and it's promoted as "a mission statement for anyone who doesn't fit the mold."Learn more about Michigan Pride at http://www.michiganpride.org/. Learn more about Stoli at http://www.stoli.com/#lgbt.
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