Influencer turned entrepreneur hopes to reclaim the word ‘gay’ with Gay Water drink

This is a composite image of Spencer Hoddeson, CEO of Gay Water. He is sitting on a chair with his legs cross. Behind him are cans of Gay Water.

Spencer Hoddeson, a former head of corporate social at Yahoo and popular social media influencer, has launched a new drink brand for the LGBTQ+ community.

While stuck in his New York City apartment with Covid in 2020, Spencer Hoddeson posted his first TikTok video “in the deliriousness of being sick,” as he puts it. He soon grew a following on social media with his relatable content on what dating is like as a gay millennial.

In January of 2022, Hoddeson was at a crossroads in his career, telling PinkNews: “I had hit a point of stagnancy in my full-time tech job where I wasn’t learning and growing.

“In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to start my own business.”

A light bulb moment

While on holiday with a friend, Hoddeson ordered a vodka soda and asked his friend if she knew that older generations referred to the drink as “gay water.”

“When she surprised me by saying she knew the term, a light bulb went off in my head,” he recalls.

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That friend happened to work in the beverage industry. Over dinner – and a vodka soda – the two acknowledged that there was a lack of queer representation in the beverage industry.  

“For a community that likes to have fun and gather in queer spaces like bars, clubs and festivals,” he continues. “It felt important to create something that represents our community year-round.”

It was at that moment Hoddeson had the inspiration to start his own company. Gay Water is a canned vodka soda that is now available in the United States.

Through Gay Water, Hoddeson aspires to drive positive change through shared values. The mission extends beyond just selling a beverage; it seeks to create an enduring impact on the drinks industry and the LGBTQ+ community.

“Having this product on the shelves is more important than ever, given the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and flimsy corporate allyship in our country right now,” he tells PinkNews. 

“It’s so important that it is quite literally our company’s mission.”

As Gay Water makes its debut in the United States, the brand is aiming to foster a sense of belonging and celebration for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

Hoddeson hopes that Gay Water will help to de-stigmatise the word and “create representation in spaces that traditionally don’t have queer-owned products.”

This is a creative image of the new canned vodka soda Gay Water
Gay Water is launching in the USA. (Supplied)

“The word ‘gay’ originally was defined as happy,” he continues, “and we’re hoping to remind folks of that by being visible to queer people in areas where they don’t have community or feel supported.”

“We want to bring joy and fun to people’s lives, while also serving as a brand that brings people together.”

On its initial launch, Gay Water be available in 35 states – including Florida, Tennessee and Kansas – all states that have recently introduced controversial anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

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