Sunday is brew day for Jonathan Fischer. Like most of his homebrewing brethren, Fischer is a regular guy with a regular job that occupies most of his time (he’s an editor on the new TV Land reality series, “Forever Young”). But one detail has made Fischer’s homebrewing experience a little different from the rest.
“When you’re gay, and people find out you’re a homebrewer, it’s like, ‘Really? You drink beer?’ And when you’re a homebrewer, and people find out you’re gay, it’s like, ‘Really? You drink beer?’ I’m straddling two cultures all the time. Some people might call that an identity crisis. But I think of myself as an eraser. I’m redefining the culture by erasing the lines that try to define us. That’s my little contribution to the world.”
For the better part of a decade, Fischer, 32, has shared an apartment with Ethan, his boyfriend, and their two cats, Daphne and Elsa. But Fischer’s road to self-acceptance was a long and arduous one. Dealing with issues of guilt and self-doubt, he often censored himself in order to fit the mold.
But by the time Fischer joined Pacific Gravity Homebrew Club in 2008, he had moved past many of those issues; he’d been in a committed relationship with Ethan, a television set decorator, for four years. Yet he was hesitant to tell other members about his sexual orientation.
“I was afraid they wouldn’t get it,” Fischer said. “The moment I came out, I wouldn’t be able to take it back. Maybe there was a reason there were no openly gay homebrewers [that I was aware of].”
But Fischer began dropping hints nonetheless, letting the members figure it out themselves. And to Fischer’s delight, they accepted him for who he was.
Things weren’t as easy with his Catholic family back home in Virginia. “Beer is my religion now,” he told me before pouring two ounces of Amarillo hops into five gallons of steaming wort.
“Every single day I think about my next batch of beer. It’s my outlet. I make beer the way I want it. No one can tell me what to do. This is me. This is my game. This is my brewery. If you like my beer, drink up! […] I think the fact that I’m gay and I homebrew tells the world that I’m human. A lot of people in the world drink beer, and gay people do, too. I’ve learned to be proud of who I am.”
Fischer hopes to open a neighborhood brewery of his own someday — L.A.’s first gay brewpub. He’d call it Fabulous Brewing Company. As for the name of his first commercial microbrew? “Homobrau,” Ethan offered with smile.