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'Boycott Equinox and SoulCycle': Trump-Funding Owner Spurs Gay Outrage

Equinox and SoulCycle

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Equinox and SoulCycle issued the following statement to The Advocate

"Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians. We are committed to all our members and the communities we live in. We believe in tolerance and equality, and will always stay true to those values. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business."

The chairman of Related Companies, the parent company of Equinox and SoulCycle, is throwing a lavish fundraiser for the reelection of Donald Trump — and the LGBTQ reaction was a swift condemnation.

In less than an hour of The Advocate posting the news on social media, the Facebook comments section had filled with dozens of calls for a boycott of the elite exercise brands.

"Quit Equinox. Don't support haters," wrote Dennis Eisen. 

"Boycott..yes, it works!" stated Dan Griffith.

"Leave in droves. Why would you give him your money?" asked Sebastian Holiday.

The chairman, developer Stephen Ross, will host a fundraiser for President Trump in the Hamptons. The Friday event, which will charge $100,000 for a photo and $250,000 to hear a roundtable discussion, will be attended by senior members of the Trump administration and First Family members like son-in-law Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr. 

Historically, Equinox has branded itself as an LGBTQ ally, partnering with the House Ballroom community and supporting charities like House Lives Matter to assist marginalized people. However, the news of Ross's fundraising for Trump — whose administration has actively worked to roll back LGBTQ rights — will likely overshadow any such efforts.

"STOP giving people and companies our hard-earned LGBTQ $$$$, if they are supporting politicians and organization that do not support our LGBTQ communities and rights. ENOUGH!" declared Nigel Pembroke-Sloan in The Advocate's Facebook comments.

Boycotts are a common tactic among members of the LGBTQ community and its allies to protest businesses and business owners supporting antigay bigotry. Chick-fil-A and the Beverly Hills Hotel have both recently faced boycotts. Calls across social media of one for Equinox and SoulCycle are growing as well. Billy Eichner, the gay comedian and The Lion King actor, was among those to speak out.

In addition to boycotting, gay Star Trek: Discovery actor Wilson Cruz has also launched a Change.org petition demanding that Equinox pressure Ross to end the Trump fundraiser. "We joined this gym because we believed it shared our values," Cruz stated in the petition. "We believed it was a safe space for people like us. We believed that we were supporting a company that was inclusive, accepting and celebrating our diversity and supporting our physical and mental health as a community."

"You have a MORAL obligation to be all of those things for your members," he continued. "Supporting this administration and the myriad of ways in which it undermines and endangers members of our communities is UNACCEPTABLE and if this fundraiser indeed does take place we will be looking for another gym to give our money to and we will be calling on our networks of LGBTQ and POC friends to do the same."

At the time of this article's publication, the petition had accrued over 130 signatures.

Adam Davis is among those who called to cancel his Equinox membership due to Ross's event. "Knowing that my outrageous as it is membership fee could fuel the slightest amount of hate is justification enough to walk away and resist," Davis said in an email to The Advocate.

Davis said the associate he spoke with on the phone claimed she had been fielding cancellation calls all morning due to the news. In terms of process, it took him less than three minutes to cancel via phone and he was charged a pro-rated amount. Equinox requires a 30-day notice to cancel membership.

"Defeating hate is more important than abs and a steam room," said Davis, who encouraged others who cancel to donate the fees they would have paid Equinox or SoulCycle to the gun-control nonprofit Moms Demand Action or gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

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