My favorite food is: A steak dinner with a dirty vodka martini My favorite city is: Paris
A bold and unpretentious rosé to uplift the queer community
A BRIGHT IDEA. Tim Chan's company started with a familiar Los Angeles scene: two friends catching up on a summer evening over rosé wine. "Admittedly I was getting a bit tipsy, and I asked my friend, has anyone done something called 'So Gay Rosé'?" he recalls. "He said I should do it, but I'd never pictured myself as an entrepreneur or leader."
The company, launched in 2021, is a canned rosé wine that represents more than just a drink. For Tim, So Gay Rosé is a reclaiming of a derogatory phrase often aimed at the queer community, including himself, during his teens. The brand also represents the culmination of Tim coming to terms with his identity after a challenging coming out journey.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Tim's upbringing was deeply religious; his Chinese immigrant parents were evangelical ministers of North America's largest Chinese church. As he came to terms with his sexuality in his early teens, he spent many years feeling conflicted and fearing that the church community would turn their backs on his family if he were outed. He eventually came out to his parents at 28, a moment he recalls feeling "a huge sigh of relief," allowing him to spend his thirties exploring his identity and sexuality without fear.
During that period, Tim moved to Los Angeles, where he currently works as the Senior Director of Commerce at Rolling Stone. One of his motivators to launch So Gay Rosé, he says, was "the need for positive queer role models. For a long time, I thought to succeed as a gay man you had to be a movie star, a model, or an influencer. I didn't know that you could be a queer entrepreneur.
"So Gay Rosé has helped me come into my own in terms of developing my voice and figuring out the type of leader I want to be in the queer community. I realized we don't have to stay in the shadows and wait until someone gives us an opportunity; we can create our own opportunities."
Tim co-founded So Gay Rosé with his best friend Josh Campbell, an entrepreneur experienced in building brands. One of their first conversations was whether Josh, who is straight, could be a part of the brand without undermining it. "We realized it's far more powerful to have an ally as part of this brand because it shows it's not exclusive; it's for everyone. The only way to foster understanding and acceptance is to bring in people from outside the queer community and show that a straight man can support a gay brand and vice versa."
A HINT OF INFLUENCE. So Gay Rosé is still in its infancy, and while Tim is taking a slow and steady approach to growing the brand, he hopes to one day expand into other products, mainly a non-alcoholic beverage. Crucially, though, he wants the company to remain politically active after realizing its power when Florida locals ordered and photographed themselves with the drink in response to the passing of the 'don't say gay' bill in 2022.
"There's no point starting a company and saying you're doing something for the community if you're not defending the community you're a part of. It's my pet peeve with a lot of straight-owned or mass brands when they slap a rainbow on a product for Pride month. So Gay Rosé is nobody's token; we're queer all year."