For the past eight years, James Ramey has developed and managed the production of all Anheuser-Busch's GLBT-specific marketing. It was a journey that did not follow so-called traditional paths. "It was more a personal odyssey of self-discovery for me, I guess," he says. Ramey was a 35-year-old father of three in the process of a difficult divorce from his wife of 16 years when he decided it was time to fully embrace his own sexual orientation, which he says he never denied: "I was married. To a woman. I was in a committed relationship. But I knew inside I was a gay man."
About that time, he found himself entrusted with marketing to the gay and lesbian contingent. But when asked, he admits his coming out relatively late in life perhaps "sparked me in ways that nothing else had previously. Certainly arriving at the party a little late gave me a little more time to anticipate what I would do at the party once I got there."
"It was epiphany for me in that year of finding myself and then being propelled into a world that I had no concept of. I was incredibly fortunate to have the kinds of opportunities arise when they did. It's sort of been a right place, right time, e-ticket ride, if you will, " says Ramey. "To be able to wake up every morning and be passionately excited about what I get to do that day, I believe is a very rare gift."
He is very proud to point out that Anheuser-Busch has been the sponsor of GLBT pride festivals across the country for 20-plus years, the presenting sponsor of the IGRA Rodeo Circuit for seven years and in general has a very long history of doing "the right thing" within and for the GLBT community. During that time, Bud Light's funding of more than $1,000,000 has been instrumental in the growth of gay rodeo.
Ramey also definitely believes that Anheuser-Busch's long-standing commitment to the gay community has an effect on consumers' purchasing habits even in an arena as crowded as the beer market. "I think it boils down to really being who we are ...and focusing on just what we stand for. We continue to put our name out there in a relevant fashion in the gay community so that when people go to an event that Bud Light is part of or a sponsor of, people see that Bud Light is a part of that experience and is a very open and honest supporter of the gay community."
The Anheuser-Busch company slogan is "Making friends is our business." And no one exemplifies that spirit more than our friend, James Ramey.