A gym owner in Alabama has apologized for sharing a post on social media during LGBTQ+ Pride Month that was offensive to gay couples and families.
Craig Waller, owner of Greenville 24 Hour Fitness, addressed a post that was made on the club's Facebook page of a "straight pride" meme, AL.com reported. The post on the business page read, “Straight Pride,” accompanied by an illustration of a bride and groom. It also said, “It’s natural, its worked for thousands of years and you can make babies. It’s okay to be straight.”
The post was later taken down.
A comment on the meme from the fitness center, according to screen shots, stated it was “not meant to demeanor (sic) anyones lifestyle but shows we can have pride in every marriage option and individuality. The reference to babies would in my opinion be referring to men now trying to give birth to children. Everyone can be proud of their relationship,” AL.com reported.
Various responses to the message said Waller should have understood that not everyone would agree with the message, while others pointed out it was also offensive to women who can’t have children.
AL.com reported Monday that in a video posted over the weekend, Waller, standing next to an unidentified man who he said is homeless, appealed for help for him from the community. Waller then said: “To all those this last week, I want to appreciate everybody for their support.
“For those that took things a different way, I want to say that I found out that really our audience is bigger than just the gym. I get used to talking to gym members, and we keep it real around here, so we talk about everything - from politics, religion, to our children, everything. So to those that don’t know us, our gym members probably came off a little harsh. I apologize. I truly do. But around here, because we communicate, we talk about everything, we just have an open rapport. So I appreciate everybody’s support. I apologize to those that were offended. Anything we can do to help y’all, let us know.”
In a statement to AL.com, the gym owner said “we have addressed this issue.” He also accused a rival business of “pushing the issue to help their business and use the news to hurt ours because the members we have weren’t offended and we have cater(ed) to everyone with open arms.”
“Everyone needs to feel free to be proud of who they are and whom they choose to spend their lives without feeling left out or discriminated against,” the statement reads.
David Lawrence, a Greenville resident, said he is not a member of the gym but saw the meme after a friend drew attention to it. He said posting the meme during Pride month on the business’ page, and not on a personal page, ”really struck a nerve with me and a lot of people.”
He called Waller’s video apology “a damn joke.”
“The reaction of course has been mixed,” Lawrence said to AL.com about the response to the original post. “There are quite a few gay people in Greenville that I know personally and they were all shocked by his post. Of course he had all his friends supporting him.”