After Equinox members around the nation revolted over owner Stephen Ross’ Hamptons fundraiser for Donald Trump, with many threatening to cancel memberships, Trump tonight stood on the stage at the fundraiser and joked with Ross about the controversy.
“Steve Ross got into a little bit of trouble this week, I said, ‘Steve. Welcome to the world of politics.’”
Trump spoke for more than an hour to more than 500 people who gathered at the Bridgehampton mansion of Ross associate Joe Farrell, also a developer, raising more than $13 million dollars for his 2020 campaign.
While that was happening, protesters were gathering in front of Equinox and SoulCycle facilities around the nation, including Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.
According to Adam Bass and Gonzalo Garcia, organizers of the boycott call and protest, about 100 people gathered during the three hour event, including some West Hollywood officials.
“Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go. Hey Hey, Ho Ho, 45 has got to go,” shouted the protesters to hundreds of well wishers who blew their horns as they drove along Sunset Boulevard. “Boycott Equinox, Boycott Equinox,” they alternated, hoisting signs and playing to the cameras of every television station in Los Angeles.
One sign read “Still have an Equinox membership? You R part of the problem.” Another read “Equinox made me do it,” “Your Spin Class Powers White Supremacy,” “Equi-Not.”
As one man drove by in a stainless-steel and black Rolls Royce he shouted “Fuck Trump” and blew his horn in rapid succession to the rhythm of the crowds chant, bringing the crowd to a roar.
Garcia says he helped organized the event because “people have become complacent.”
“When I saw the news I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said. “So we planned the protest. I didn’t want to just sit behind my computer sharing the story, wondering if someone was going to do something. I think it’s still good to protest and make your voices heard.”
Asked why Equinox’s corporate support by Ross for Donald Trump matters more than major donations to Republicans made by other corporations (Facebook, PayPal, etc), Gonzalo said “Ross is a hypocrite. If he claims to support racial equality, women’s rights and environment issues why is he giving to Trump; he has proven how opposed he is to all of those issues,” he said.
The situation is reminiscent of the boycott in Manhattan of the Out Hotel, a gay hotel that was located on West 42nd Street and owned by real-estate investor Ian Reisner and his business and former partner Mati Weiderpass. The pair hosted a dinner party at their duplex on Central Park South for then Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, and his wife.
Within hours protesters organized and dozens of people marched from Time Square to the hotel, demanding a boycott. Within a year the hotel was closed and Reisner and Weiderpass became social persona non-grata.
Other LGBT community boycotts have proven less than successful and prolonged (Coors comes to mind), but there seems to be agreement that Equinox and SoulCycle will be hobbled if membership numbers decline as a result of the boycott.
A lesbian Equinox member (who asked not to be identified) exited the gym during the demonstration and sat by watching a Latino Trump supporter named Harim Uzziel chant along with the crowd, changing the chants from anti-Trump to pro-Trump chants. “I just emptied my locker and now seeing this I’m glad I did,” she said, laughing at the MAGA hat wearing man.
When asked if she had reluctantly quit she said, “At first I saw this as an impossible purity protest; why would I quit Equinox but not cancel my vacation at the Marriott? Both hide their homophobia behind rainbow flags, just like nearly every corporation in America,” she said. “I doubt there’s a single company that hasn’t donated to Republicans or Trump.”
She added, “But we don’t have to be blind anymore.”
West Hollywood protest organizer Garcia echoed her sentiment. “We need people to know where their money is ending up,” he said.
Organizer Bass says he is hopeful that people are starting to care.
“We started planning this two days ago, spent no money and had no organizational support, and still had over 100 people show up,” he said. “Clearly there’s a hunger in our community to actively oppose Trump and his enablers at every opportunity.”
That may keep protesters very busy as Donald Trump is aggressively hitting up Fortune 500 corporate enablers like Ross. And they are responding, sometimes quietly.
“I love coming to the Hamptons,” he gloated.
As if acknowledging his own toxicity, Trump added “I know the Hamptons well, everyone here votes for me but they won’t admit it.”