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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, the Spirit of Stonewall bottle, Pride celebrations, and upcoming plans in this Exclusive Interview.
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To 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 Interview.

Kim 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?

Lisa 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.

KC- 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 you?

Patrik 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.

KC- 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”?

LMT - 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

KC- 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?

PG- 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.

KC- 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?

PG: 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.

KC- 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?

LMT- 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 Bottle

KC- 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?

LMT- 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 when creating.

Yoga 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?

LMT - 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 first born.

KC- 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?

PG- 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 to flourish.

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!

KC- What plans do you have for Pride celebrations this year? What, if any, has been the most memorable Pride Day celebration you have experienced?

PG: 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 West Florida

KC- What new and exciting projects are on the horizon?

LMT - 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 - 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

Interview/Written By:
Kim Corda - Tampa Bay Gay Contributer


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