The owner of a gym in Canada has backtracked after someone posted a photo of the gym’s business cards online. The business in question is Fitness2Life in Armstrong, British Columbia.
Besides listing the gym’s facilities, and featuring a Jesus-like muscle man carrying a hefty-looking crucifix, on their reverse, the cards also feature a logo of a man and a woman and the words ‘straight pride’.
Someone posted images of the cards to Facebook last week, where they prompted many shares and thousands of comments.
“Disappointing to see a business actually putting “straight pride” on their business card,” said Dailene Cowles on a local Facebook group, ‘Vernon Rant and Rave’. “I’m all for Live and Let Live, but sometimes we have to stand up for what’s right. Especially with something SO wrong.”
The owner of the gym, Peter Nenasheff, told local press he does not have a Facebook account so he has not seen the comments. However, he says he received several phone calls, some criticizing and others supporting him. He told Vernon Morning Star, “It was not to offend anybody, it was just my freedom of expression. Everybody is welcome in my gym.”
The cards were printed last August, so Nenasheff was surprised at how they suddenly prompted controversy.
“It’s just my personal view, we don’t have a right to judge anybody. I’m not judging anybody with what I put on that card. I guess maybe I shouldn’t have put it there,” he conceded, before saying some of his customers are gay.
“I know I have gay members coming here. I’m not against anybody, any color, race, nationality, nothing, everybody is welcome to the gym.”
Nenasheff told CBC that he just felt pride about being heterosexual and wanted to express that.
“I am proud that I’m a straight guy … I [take] no offense if someone is proud that they are gay. Everybody has their right to choose their lifestyle they want to live or whatever it may be and I don’t get offended if someone has gay pride on their window or car or wherever it may be.”
The gym has been running for 20 years. Nenasheff took it over 12 years ago.
On the front of the card was the logo of a local coffee shop business, Cherry Hill, a supplier to the gym. When the cards were brought to the attention of that business, a spokesperson said its logo had been used without permission and that it had asked the gym to remove all the offending cards.
“We did not give the owner permission to use our logo on his business cards, and since it is a registered logo we may pursue further action,” said president David Bigelow. “The straight pride logo has no affiliation with our company, and Cherry Hill Coffee opposes the use of the logo and what it represents.”
It later posted a comment to its Facebook page saying, “Our Cherry Hill family strongly believes that diversity fuels innovation and that inclusivity creates acceptance. We strive to create an environment where our family, our friends and our valued employees are free to celebrate their authentic selves.”
The business cards have now been pulled and Nenasheff says his cards in the future will make it clear that everyone is welcome at the gym.