WEST HOLLYWOOD — Around 100 people gathered in front of an Equinox in West Hollywood Friday to protest its owner, Stephen Ross.
Ross — the chair of Related Companies, which owns Equinox as well SoulCycle, among other properties — went ahead with plans to throw a lavish fundraising event the same day for President Trump. He did so despite an outcry from the LGBTQ community and a wave of canceled gym memberships and Twitter outrage.
In response to the fundraiser, protesters made their voices heard in the real world on Sunset Boulevard from 4 p.m. to about 6:30 p.m. Cars from the Los Angeles rush hour honked in support as those gathered shouted chants like, "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Donald Trump has got to go!" and "Our voices are strong! Our voices are loud!"
A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence could be seen waving a rainbow flag at the protest; later, the drag queen took up the megaphone to amplify the message. Signs among the assemblage included "Trump has no soul," "EquiNOT," and "Equinox supports a white supremacist."
Co-organizer Gonzalo Garcia, wearing a T-shirt imprinted with "Resist," lambasted Trump and Ross in a fiery speech to the crowd. "I'm sick of learning about billionaires making money off of u s... [to support] racist, sexist, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic men like Donald Trump."
Men like Trump "are narcissistic," Garcia continued. "They care nothing but their fame and fortune. They do not have the country's best interests at heart. The same goes for the hypocrite Stephen Ross."
"Let's send a message loud and clear, we can not support companies who are trying to re-elect a racist, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, anti-immigrant and all-around bigot," read the statement on the protest's Facebook event page.
Adam G. Bass told Wehoville that he was inspired to launch the protest after first hearing news of Ross's fundraiser on Wednesday. “If people in our community boycott Chick-fil-A for their work against the LBGT community, then we better do the same towards Equinox and Soul Cycle," Bass told the West Hollywood outlet. "We cannot sit around and let this continue to happen. It’s the future of our country, our people, our immigrants and our children.”
Leadership at Equinox and SoulCycle distanced themselves from Ross’s politics in a statement issued Wednesday. "Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it,” reads a statement from the companies.
Ross, doubling down, defended himself and the fundraiser in his own lengthy statement.
“I have always been an active participant in the democratic process,” Ross said. “While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticize, I prefer to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about.”
“I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions.”
Outraged members of the LGBTQ community and its allies continue to boycott and cancel their memberships to the elite exercise brands in response to the fundraiser. Adam Davis was among those who called to cancel his membership at the Equinox in West Hollywood.
"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. "Defeating hate is more important than abs and a steam room," he added.