Hollis Bulleit publicly accused her own family, makers of a popular brand of bourbon whiskey, of homophobia.
Her partner is a woman and Hollis claims they've been frozen out of the family and, ultimately, its business.
"Since Cher and I have been together she has been excluded from 'the family business' from the start," she writes. … "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."
… 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. …
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.
Bulleit's owned by the British company Diageo, which released a statement:
We are very proud of our long track record of work, through many of our brands, to support the LGBT community. It is unfortunate in this instance that we were not able to reach agreement with Hollis on her future involvement with the Bulleit brand. However, to insinuate that the failure to do so was due to bias of any kind is simply unfair and inaccurate. Despite this, we are appreciative of Hollis's past efforts on behalf of the brand and the industry.
Updated 3 p.m. to include statement