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Pride Month Interviews - Meet Nathan Hazard | NTY Blog

Pride Month Interviews - Meet Nathan Hazard | NTY Blog - No, thank you

Continuing the PRIDE Month celebration!

As a company that fully-celebrates inclusivity and the importance of community, we’re always looking for ways to support and bring awareness to like-minded individuals and organizations.  

For the entire month of June, we’re excited to highlight several thought-provokers in an interview series, led by our very own Graham Smith -  co-founder of NTY CBD Skincare and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community himself!

This week, we chat with Nathan Hazard - owner of Littlebear Bottleshop and fellow Mountain Gay. Check out the video below to learn more about Nathan as he introduces us to his favorite queer-made spirits, talks about his coming out journey and shares what it’s like being an LGBTQ+ business owner in a predominantly-conservative area. 

Looking for a specific section before diving in? We got you…

0:40 - Series Intro + Meet Nathan

01:14 - Nathan Introduces Queer Brand #1: OENO Wines

02:28 - Talking RTD's aka Cocktails in a Can

03:36 - What's your favorite part of being gay?

05:17 - Nathan & Graham's coming out journeys

07:30 - Being gays in the (conservative) mountains

10:13 - Having corrective conversations

12:15 - Nathan's take on current affairs & LGBTQ+ rights

13:40 - Queer Brand #2: En Cavale Wine

14:27 - Queer Brand #3: Future Gin

14:44 - Queer Brand #4: Supergay Vodka

15:10 - Queer Brand #5: Stone Forest Coffee

15:44 - Conclusion


For more information on Nathan and Littlebear Bottleshop, check out the links below and show him some love:

Instagram: @littlebearbottleshop



Be sure to keep an eye on our blogs page and follow us on Instagram as we highlight more inspiring individuals like Nathan for the remainder of Pride and all throughout the year! 


Happy PRIDMonth! 

Full Transcript:

Graham: Hey everyone. Welcome back to gay talks with Graham today. I'm here with my good friend, Nathan, who owns a shop called The Littlebear Bottleshop and it is by all accounts , the best liquor store within a 30 foot radius of right here. Even though I like to joke about it, Nathan has the absolute, coolest liquor store I have ever been to and I've lived a lot of places; I've lived in London,  I've lived in Los Angeles and I have never found a cooler selection of stuff handpicked by this guy. It is all totally fantastic! So Nathan, what are we drinking today? 

Nathan: Well, thank you! I thought, you know, with it being kind of early in the day still, we'd start with something a little light, something easy, but more  importantly and on theme, I feel like for Pride month, something made by a queer. So, today we're doing OENO. This is a Vermouth Blanco spritz. This is made by Amy Atwood in Los Angeles, California and it is a delicious, light, ready-to-drink sparkling cocktail, low ABV…. 

Graham: It is what, 10:30 am in the morning? Oh, it's drinking hour. We're totally cool. So, okay. Cheers. Happy Saturday! Ooh, that's nice. That's really good. I know. Tell me a little bit more about how this is made and what's in here. Thinking it's white wine and Vermouth?

Nathan: Yea, Vermouth I think is very misunderstood. Vermouth is a fortified wine and these days I feel like it's having a bit of a Renaissance. The maker of this, Amy, she's a wine importer and has great relationships so she was able to make a beautifully fortified wine. This is what it looks like in its normal bottle, which we also sell, but the came out with this really handy sparkling spritz that's perfect for summer and absolutely delicious as you can taste

Graham: I love it. I am personally a huge fan of drinks in a can. For anyone who doesn't know, The Littlebear Bottleshop is really close to Lake Arrowhead, so if you're out for a day on the boat, you can grab wine in a can. You've also got some incredible cocktails in a can. I think the cool thing about these days is you're getting really artisan, nice, craft cocktails in a can. 

Nathan: Cocktails in a can, or RTDs as we call 'em in the biz, “ready to drink’s”, are a dime a dozen these days but that's all the more reason that curation is important so that you can trust you're getting a good one. That's one thing I'm really proud of here. I think every single one I have is absolutely delicious. One thing we saw during pandemic was that because so many bars were closed, there was a lot more of a focus on perfecting the canned cocktail so people could have that at home experience that was on par, or at least close to, sitting at your favorite bar. 

Graham: Yeah, I love it. I mean, I like making my own cocktails as well, but there's something convenient about opening the fridge and being ready to go. It's the lazy man's cocktail, it’s great.

Nathan: Look, we all get lazy sometimes and yeah, sometimes after a long day, all you can really muster is a little *crack*. 

Graham: Okay. We are here to talk about gay stuff, as you know. So first question for Nathan, just to break the ice a little bit, is what is your favorite part about being gay?

Nathan: I think it's a true freedom of expression of living your life, how you want to and not feeling confined by society's arbitrary guidelines. 

Graham: One hundred percent. For me, the coming out experience was not the easiest. It wasn't the worst in the world, I'm not gonna say I had like a horrible time, everyone’s different, but having been through the other side of it now, there's no way I could ever turn back. I absolutely love who I am, I love being gay, and that is the only way for me. 

Nathan: I think, you know, it was important for me in my formative years to learn about Dan Savage, learn about It Gets Better and it really resonated with me because I was on that journey and it had been a difficult run up until then, and then it was like, things were clicking into place and I was finding myself. You know, we obviously develop a lot later as queer people because we're spending our first chunk of those formative years wondering “what the fuck is going on?” before we actually can come to terms with who we really are. So, you know, adolescence comes a little later, that's why we have a lot of fun in our twenties.

Graham: I think I'm still an adolescent by the way! Like I am not there yet!

Nathan: Yeah. For me, I think getting to that point where you realize you're like getting to a good place of feeling deprogrammed and actually calling the shots and realizing that you can create your own reality is that moment of fulfillment a nd like, “Oh! Yeah, yeah! This is it.” I grew up in Tucson, Arizona..

Graham: That's right! You grew up in Tucson. What was your coming out experience like in Tucson?

Nathan: It was incredibly difficult. I mean, to be honest, I didn't come out in Tucson, Arizona. I came out in Oregon when I got to college and it was almost immediate because I just needed that break. I needed to get out of that stifling, Red state…you know, all of the baggage of family and upbringing and religion and it took me really just full-on removing myself to just go “I’m Done.” 

Graham: Yeah, well, it was the same for me, by the way. I mean, I grew up in LA and you would think that coming out there is pretty easy but I had this very conservative Catholic high school experience and I think that makes you really change your own perspective on yourself and the Catholic mentality is very much “Are you gay? If you think you might be, take a step back and question because you're probably not and you shouldn't be” and it put me in this really weird head space. It was only when I moved to London where I actually started exploring my sexuality properly, came out to all my friends and then came out to my parents after that.

Nathan: Amazing. Well, I do feel for people who don't have that opportunity, even though I was raised in the Catholic church, I also had parents that were total hippies, like in the seventies, so I guess I had a different expectation of how this would go. I was like, you know “peace, love, whatever everything's gonna be fine, I'm gonna come out to my parents now that I figured this out” and it was actually a lot harder, way harder, than I expected. We weren't, it wasn't, good for a long time unfortunately and there was a lot of disappointment there for me too and new baggage that, unfortunately, I had to add on to the coming out experience. But over time, we figured it out. Going back to Arizona now feels so completely different. I think I was actually afraid, remember being afraid to go back the first few times because I just didn't know how that would feel. I remember even having strange, toxic thoughts my very first trip back like, “am I sure?” and that was like really scary. And then as soon as I got to my new home again, I was like “Oh my God, what the hell was I thinking?” So, it can be a total mindfuck you know? I like I'm at a place now where I can be out to everyone and that feels completely comfortable and I'm not ashamed of any of it. 

Graham: Same here. Another experience we share is we both moved out of Los Angeles, where it's pretty easy to be gay these days, into this little mountain community where, I'll be honest, when Mark and I first moved up here we thought we were gonna be the proverbial “only gays in the village”. It's historically a red county, Trump territory, all that. You moved a bit earlier than we did so how did you think about it when you moved up?

Nathan: You know, it's funny. I didn't really think it all through quite in that way. I bought this property as an investment but then I literally was moving in the week of lockdown, so it was like, suddenly, I was just like “Oh, this is maybe where I'm gonna be for a while” and it seemed at the time like a really good place to be in that way: it was removed, it was, you know, felt safer in a lot of ways. That said, during that time I got to know all my neighbors on my little private street and realized very quickly that I was “the gay of the village”. So, I was like “I don't know anyone. Oh, wow, this is different.” It was really hard sometimes hearing what people were saying up here. It was also the election cycle, so seeing all the Trump stuff and the “Fuck Biden” stuff, it was a lot. That said, it felt constructive because I had conversations that I never would've had in LA and was able to actually listen and share a point of view and you know, being who I am now, I could do that comfortably and quietly. I think my younger self would have gotten really hotheaded and started an argument or kind of pushed them off but I realized this person lives right across the street from me. I have to see them every day of my life, so let's actually try to connect on a level and I think ultimately, it was really positive.Like, we're not gonna change each other fully but I've already seen a shift a little bit in some of the conversation patterns and a sensitivity to my lifestyle where there were conversations about Bible versus and how I shouldn't be who I am, somehow got through that, and we're on the other side now and I can look at it and say  “That was really cool” that I was able to listen and respond respectfully while shutting it down and get to a place now where we can have very civil and even caring discourse, like we care for each other. We take care of each other, we're neighbors, and that's what I love about this mountain. While it does seem really polarizing when you look at it, we're still in Southern California and I think people are more kind of “Libertarian, do your own thing” and also neighbors  first. I feel like people are neighbors first. The politics come maybe second,  hopefully not at all, but yeah.

Graham: I mean here, it is living in the mountains, you kind of have to be neighborly. Like, we had this crazy storm in January, we lost power for six days, we were shuttling batteries up to our neighbors, you kind of have to take care of one another. So, you're one of the people who I really respect for engaging in corrective conversations with people up here, both your neighbors and you get all kinds of people in the shop too, correct? 

Nathan: I actively, you know, choose not to fully politicize my business, but because I wanted to welcoming in a place for everyone, I would never stand for any disrespect in this space and that's obviously super important just for our own integrity but I'm not gonna lie. I mean, I've heard things come back to me that, you know, somebody asked my landlord what he would do if I put up a Pride flag. There have been a few moments like that, where, yeah, I guess I have felt unsafe. I am a single person living in the wilderness at the end of the day so safety is definitely an issue. That said, I think this is the first time in my life that I don't shut down when that happens because that's always been my pattern as well. 

Graham: Same and it's something I'm working on and trying to get more involved and actually engage in productive discussions with people when I have the opportunity to but it's a work in progress. I wouldn't say I'm there yet.

Nathan: No, and this community's a work in progress. We're part of that change. I think everyone who's moving here is really trying to offer their gifts to this community in a way that, while it might be changing rapidly, it's all these beautiful things that are building up on space that was otherwise fallow or unused or underappreciated, so I think that this area is just a beautiful moment that's only just begun. 

Graham: I agree. I'm loving it up here also. By the way, the number of other gays that we've met up here, it does make a difference. We've met so many more gay friends being up here than we ever did living in LA, it's so much more inclusive. 

Nathan: Absolutely the same. 

Graham: On the flip side as a gay man today, I don’t know about you, but I feel like, and I've said this before, I've never felt like my rights are so under pressure and under threat.  If you look at what's happening with Roe vs. Wade, I feel like there's a good chance that my marriage might not be federally accepted in the next year or two. What's your take on the current state of affairs in the gay world? 

Nathan: Well, it's terrifying. I mean, it's not even a threat, it's a full on attack on LGBTQ+ rights and that does have an echo, especially when we're in a conservative area. What I like to remind myself of though is how much change can happen and how sometimes the pendulum swings. It's really important not to focus on the pendulum itself but focus on its motion and realize that we do have Democratic leadership. As effective or ineffective as they may be, there is still possibility for some of that stuff to, to change, to be battled, and I don't think anyone's gonna go down easy this time. We're just, as a society, we're way too intelligent at this point and engaged. I don't think I've ever seen a more politically engaged populous than we are right now, so I don't expect any of this to go down without a fight. The best you can do is just stay positive and and fight for your rights. 

Nathan: So, a couple of products that I'm featuring in particular this month going into Pride are queer-made products. I don't think a lot of people realize that in the spirit, wine, beer space, there are really amazing queer makers  and what is normally, obviously a very cis-straight dominated industry. En Cavale Wine is made by my friend, Wolfgang Weber. He's a very, very fabulous gay working in the wine space and this is one of his beautiful wines. This is a Sangiovese, one of the most food-friendly wines I can think of. His stuff is unfined, unfiltered, all natural production. It's lush, it tastes great, and it feels really good on the pallet. He also makes some other beautiful wines. Check 'em out, they’re not to sleep on. 

Nathan: Future Gin is one of my favorite gins on the shelf. This is a really cool collaboration between awesome queer owners and makers. It's a beautiful expression of Southern California. It has gorgeous Meyer lemon notes, honeysuckle, and it just tastes like California sunshine. It's delicious. 

Nathan: I would be remiss to skip Supergay Vodka because I mean, hi. This is made in upstate New York. I like to think of us up here as upstate LA, so it only seems like a beautiful kindred thing to feature some of our queer sisters and brothers in upstate New York. This is a beautiful, everyday vodka made the right way. It's good quality because of course gays, we have good taste. 

Nathan: I'm really excited to also feature things other than spirits, wine and beer on the shop. I do have a pantry and I’m very proud to carry Stone Forest, which is locally roasted coffee roasted in Running Springs, California, which is just the next town over. This is made by an awesome queer couple. It's beautiful, top-tier coffee made right here on our mountain. Of course, this is great for your morning cup of Joe, but it's also just as good at night, maybe with a little tip of something in it. Espresso martini? Mmm. 

Graham: Nathan. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to me today. I love you so much and I am so happy that 1. Obviously you have this shop because we can walk to our favorite liquor store in the world and how many people can do that? And 2. You have become one of our best friends on this mountain and I am so, so thankful for that. I love you.

Nathan: I love you too, buddy.


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