commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising that
sparked the LGBTQ movement, Stoli Vodka has unveiled a limited
edition bottle that features that artwork of DC based artist,
Lisa Marie Thalhammer, and supports the Stonewall Inn Gives
Back Initiative. Tampa Bay Gay's contributing writer, Kim
Corda had a chance to check in with Lisa Marie and Patrik Gallineaux,
Stoli’s LGBTQ Ambassador, about Stoli’s support of the LGBTQ
community, Pride celebrations, and upcoming plans in this Exclusive
Corda- How did it come about for you to create the art
for Stoli commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall
Inn Protests that marked the beginning of the LGBTQ movement
in the US?
Marie Thalhammer - Stoli Key West Cocktail Champion bartender,
Jo McDaniel, first suggested my artwork for this year’s Stoli
Spirit of Stonewall Limited Edition bottle. Patrik Gallineaux,
National LGBTQ Ambassador for Stoli Vodka, learned about my
LOVE mural art in Washington, DC and after an inspiring conversation
with him, I was excited to get creating.
As the LGBTQ Ambassador for Stoli Vodka, what role do you
take in the unveiling of this special edition bottle? How did
the designation of LGBTQ Ambassador to Stoli come about for
Gallineaux - I have been privileged to work on the project
from the start, from conceptualization to the search for the
perfect artist and even to the creative direction for the
bottle design. Therefore, the unveiling is extremely personal
to me, and I could not be prouder of the result. I am excited
to continue to work to celebrate the bottle through World
Pride and beyond as an important recognition of the people
and happenings of the Stonewall movement.
In 2010, Stoli had the foresight to create LGBTQ Ambassador
role, and I was in the right place at the right time (San
Francisco, CA) where I was approached about the position.
However, my original direction was that the hope was for someone
to be able to commit to work to turn the role one day into
a national one. I take the title of “Ambassador” very seriously,
and when I quickly realized Stoli would empower me so sincerely
to represent not just an amazing brand, but truly to act as
an LGBTQ community Ambassador and be able to connect and support
so many communities, I knew this was a rare opportunity which
I needed to embrace fully.
Lisa, the design brings together multiple elements, even
an homage to your own mural. How did you come up with the final
product? Was it seamless or were there many “first drafts”?
- I had already been sketching out hand symbols to use them
conceptually as a universal visual language when Patrik contacted
me about the Stoli bottle. There are so many incredible Stonewall
veterans, as well as many courageous activists all over the
country, participating in the Uprisings in 1969, that I wanted
a way to represent this collective resistance. I spent a few
weeks listening to all of Eric Marcus’ Making Gay History
podcasts, and feeling very inspired, I combined my hand drawings
outside of the Stonewall Inn located at Gay and Christopher
streets with protest signs to reference the historic Gay Liberation
Front and my present-day LOVE Campaign. Patrik and others
at Stoli were thrilled with the first draft I sent.
Final Design - Stoli® Spirit of Stonewall
Do you recall when you first learned of the 1969 uprising?
Can you expound on your reaction to learning about the events
of that time?
The very first memory I have of learning of any significant
LGBTQ event or person was in 1979 as a child when I was on
the screened in porch of my childhood home in Slippery Rock,
Pennsylvania. I heard on our little black and white tv the
word “Twinkie”- which naturally got a sugar loving child’s
attention! I asked my father what the “twinkie defense” was
and of course, this was during the time of the trial of Dan
White, who had assassinated Harvey Milk the year prior in
November. Hearing the word “gay” for the first time in a factual
way was HUGELY impactful, and I know I wondered inside why
I only heard it throughout my childhood and high school years
in a derogatory way.
It actually makes me a little angry that I had to wait a full
10 years more until I learned of the Stonewall uprising. It
was during my first year of college when, for the first time
in my life, I was around other openly gay people and finally
began to have conversations about life, love, and history
that should have occurred through my entire childhood. It
was like the world suddenly went from black and white to full
color, and so much made sense. It is, in my opinion, a crime
and shameful that LGBTQ history is not mandatory to be taught
in all schools. I believe that all families should have the
resources to speak openly and lovingly with their children
about the diversity of the world. To grow up otherwise is
suffocating, stifling, and the mere silence can have tragic
repercussions and cause wounds that might never be fully healed.
I hope that our Stoli Limited Edition Harvey Milk (2018) and
Spirit of Stonewall bottles are in some way small contributions
to bringing visibility and awareness that has always been
lacking and needs to be made loud and clear today.
Have either of you ever been to the Stonewall Inn? If so, what
did you find to be the most remarkable thing about the place?
But of course! I have loved the Stonewall Inn since my days
living in the East Village of NY in the 90’s. I think that
Mr. Tree Sequoia, who has been a bartender at the Stonewall
Inn since the 60’s and was around during the time of the 1969
Stonewall Revolution, is one of the most spectacular things
about the Stonewall Inn. Tree is a dear friend and one of
the brightest and kindest souls I know. He still bartends
(I believe) three days a week at the Inn, and at close to
80 years old, is always a perfect host who graciously will
share stories of Stonewall, LGBTQ history, and his fascinating
life with friends and fans alike.
The proceeds of sales of this special edition Stoli bottle
featuring Lisa’s artwork will benefit the Stonewall Inn Gives
Back Initiative. What do you feel is most needed in the
advancement of equality for all in this country and beyond?
I believe that there is a love deficiency in our world. Turn
on the news and hate and fear spill out of the mouths of some
of our most prominent leaders and it justifies others to act
in violent and unjust ways. Humanity needs to shift this narrative
and require our leaders to speak a language that uplifts and
empowers others to goodness, respect, and kindness. Love has
no religion, no country, and no race. I believe that love
has the power to connect all sentient beings, leading to a
world where happiness and freedom can be pursued by all.
PG- I feel in one word it is “Visibility.” Now is the
time to recognize that we no longer need to rely on any one
leader, organization, or entity to make a massive difference
for global LGBTQ equality. With social media, internet, and
cellular technology so prevalent, we have the opportunity
to live our lives unapologetically and proudly in a way like
never before that can and should inspire others to do the
same. There are so many countries and even small towns/cities
right here in the USA-such as the ones that SIGBI and its
amazing leader Stacy Lentz work so hard to advance - that
are lightyears behind and need the inspiration, hope, and
education that positive visibility can provide. But I also
always remind myself that it is also important to be even
more articulate and accurate in messaging when so many eyes
are watching, especially as a member of the LGBTQ community.
I feel it is even more crucial to be impeccable in one’s words
and actions, and always lead out of enlightenment and a sincere
care for others. We have been bullied for so long that we
need to recognize our allies as important, and to be careful
to limit the fighting amongst ourselves so that our energies
can be best used to move ahead together.
Stoli® Spirit of Stonewall
Lisa, Your art is powerfully infused with a soulful but strong
looking women, a juxtaposition of delicacy and fierceness. How
have you cultivated this energy in your work?
Thank you for these kind words - I try to find what we call
in yoga, sthira sukham asanam - which means “strong and steady
seat” in Sanskrit. Visual art is a way of communicating, so
I always try to find this balance and come from a place of authenticity
seems to be a fundamental practice in your life. What came first,
art or yoga? What is the relationship between the two? How old
were you when you knew you were going to pursue a career in
- Art definitely came first - as a teenager, I knew I would
dedicate this life to creating visual art that empowers and
uplifts, but I have had to persist through all the ups and
downs to make this career a reality. In 2014 I had a serious
concussion and had to shift my life and focus on healing.
I studied the subtle energy of yoga intensely during this
time and through this healing process, my LOVE artwork was
Even as far as we have come in 50 years, there’s still so
much work to be done in the fight for equality of all kinds
in this country. What advice do you have for young people who
are awakening to their sexuality as identifying with LGBTQ?
YOU are perfect as you ARE! To be a member of the LGBTQ community
is not only right, it is amazing. To be LGBTQ usually comes
with what I consider SUPERPOWERS of creativity, larger doses
of empathy, passion, and determination. Know that you are
not alone and never have been-so many have come before who
have already paved roads to make life easier, and you deserve
LMT - My advice is to trust your journey. Life is not
always easy but it’s how we deal with the hard times that
determine the strength of our character. Keep standing up,
speaking out and being you!
What plans do you have for Pride celebrations this year? What,
if any, has been the most memorable Pride Day celebration you
SO many plans! SO many Prides. Of course, I always look forward
to our annual Key West Pride Week with the Stoli Key West
Cocktail Classic, the world’s largest LGBTQ bartender celebration,
and World Pride New York will be extra special, including
a couple events celebrating our Stoli Spirit of Stonewall
Limited Edition bottle, with Lisa Marie in attendance. My
favorite Pride memory may be riding in the longest parade
I have ever seen in Toronto for World Pride 2015. I was dancing
in a giant martini glass for hours all the way down Yonge
Street with incredible drag star Miss Conception. Afterward
I had been diagnosed with heat exhaustion, but I would not
change a thing. Compared to what others have endured, to be
able to celebrate with a giant parade is nothing. Getting
to preside over a surprise wedding proposal between two women
onstage while hosting the San Diego Pride festival main stage
in 2016 was AMAZING (I cried), and two years later receiving
the first-ever Rainbow Key to the City of San Diego during
Pride week which was something I could hardly believe and
will never forget.
LMT - Starting this week (June 5th) in beautiful Key
West Florida - I am excited to be painting murals of my Spirit
of Stonewall artwork around the country to celebrate and commemorate
50 years of the Queer Liberation Movement! I have been working
on this project all year long - Pride for me is more than
a one-day celebration - it is a life value. With this year’s
Stoli partnership - this year’s World Pride in NYC is already
top on my list of Best Pride’s Ever!!
Lisa Marie Thalhammer - Mural Painting, Key
What new and exciting projects are on the horizon?
- During this upcoming election cycle, my dream is to take
my LOVE art on the road painting murals and postering LOVE
all over the country. Please follow me @lisamariestudio on
Instagram to keep up with my journey or visit my website at
lisamariestudio.con to purchase art prints and support my
work! If you know of a wall or would like support my Love
Campaign please message me at email@example.com
- I’m excited to hear from you!
PG- I hope your readers follow me at @patrikgallineaux
on Instagram and Patrik Gallineaux on Facebook to find out!
Lisa Marie & Patrik at the Mural Reveal Celebration,
Key West Florida
Kim Corda - Tampa Bay Gay Contributer