By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com May 16 2014 5:00 AM ET
Lance Bass, Jai Rodriguez, Carlton Gebbia, Ross Mathews, Joanna Krupa, and the band GRL have joined the boycott against the Beverly Hills Hotel, whose owner, the sultan of Brunei, has implemented draconian policies in his country that would punish homosexuality with stoning.
The Advocate asked the stars if they would boycott the hotel at the Tuesday opening of Pump Lounge in West Hollywood. Many celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, and Pump Lounge's owner, Lisa Vanderpump, have publicly declared they they will not attend events or stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel in order to put pressure on the sultan, who recently instituted Sharia law in his Asian nation, allowing for the stoning of those who engage in gay sex and women who commit adultery. Also, people could have their limbs severed if they're convicted of property crimes and jailed for missing religious services.
“As a huge spokesperson and advocate for the LGBT community and supporter of equal rights, I find it devastating,” Vanderpump had told Los Angeles's KNBC. “It’s like a home from home, but unfortunately I just don’t feel I can support any of this man’s business ventures with what’s come out.”
One of the red carpet exceptions to the boycott supporters was Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles's Josh Flagg, who said he would continue to support the establishment due to his concern for the welfare of its staff.
"If the sultan of Brunei was to build a hotel here today and he wanted my business, would I give it to him? Absolutely not," the Bravo reality star said. "[But] the Beverly Hills Hotel is a 100-year-old institution, which I have been supporting since I was a child, and I’m not going to turn my back on it just because the owner is a nutjob. The owner is crazy and barbaric, but that doesn’t mean the staff or the people that work there, who are lovely, wonderful people, who rely on my tips and other people’s tips, our business — why should they suffer?"
Lance Bass, on the other hand, suggested that employees quit as a form of protest.
"Find another job, people," Bass said. "It’s OK. There’s plenty of places to use your expertise, and it doesn’t have to be that hotel."
Read the full responses of the stars below.
Lance Bass ('N Sync, Not Looking)
"You’d better believe it," Bass said, when asked if he was part of the boycott. "I used to go there all the time to have lots of meetings, but I will never set foot in that place as long as that awful man is owning that place."
"I love the Beverly Hills Hotel. But that’s something you have to stand against, because it’s just not right," said a member of the band GRL, and the band unanimously agreed they were "Team Boycott." "There’s nothing right about it. There’s nothing good about it. So I am completely down to boycott something like that."
Joanna Krupa (The Real Housewives of Miami)
"I don’t care what country you come from. You need to be up to date," added The Real Housewives of Miami's Joanna Krupa. "Stoning, just because someone is gay, is disgusting. It’s repulsive. It’s embarrassing to be a human being and have those words come out of your mouth. I’m all for what Lisa has said, and hopefully, things will change. ... A boycott is a strong way to send a message, and probably the only way to send a message."
Ross Mathews (Hello Ross)
"I support sending a message loud and clear," Mathews said. "And whatever it takes until that message is heard, that’s what I support. And I stand with the LGBT community 100 percent, and whatever we, as a community, decide to do as the best course of action, that’s what I stand by. If it takes a boycott for them to hear us … then that’s what we need to do. ... If I were holding an event, I would not book it there right now."
Carlton Gebbia (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills)
"Yes, [I would support a boycott] for the right reasons, and this is one of them," said Gebbia. "I don’t think anybody should say anything so stupid, so cruel, and so heinous. And certainly, someone who is a multibillionaire, maybe they think their money has protected them, that they’re allowed to say whatever they want. You don’t say that. You don’t get to say that."
Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Malibu Country)
"It’s a real shame, because it’s an L.A. landmark, so to boycott the business, we are putting people out of work," said Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Jai Rodriguez, who ultimately viewed a boycott as being on "the right path" to effecting change. "I do feel bad, because I don’t want anyone to lose their job, specifically the people who have nothing to do with that. But this guy, as Wendy Williams would say, needs to take a seat."
Victor Ortiz (The Expendables 3)
"You don’t talk bad about anybody. I don’t. I don’t respect anybody talking bad about people," said the boxing champion, citing a gay family member he loves and supports. "So people saying stuff like that about others, it doesn’t sit too well with me."
Lisa Vanderpump (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules)
“As a huge spokesperson and advocate for the LGBT community and supporter of equal rights, I find it devastating,” Vanderpump had told KNBC. “It’s like a home from home, but unfortunately I just don’t feel I can support any of this man’s business ventures with what’s come out.”