So what do you do if you are a member of the Equinox gyms, whose majority owner is a huge supporter of President Trump — so huge, in fact, that he’s holding a lavish, six-figure fundraiser luncheon for Trump on Friday — and you are also a member of the L.A. Times editorial board, which put out a collection of editorials titled “Our Dishonest President”?
I share my board’s outrage over most of what Trump has said and done during his presidency, and I wrote a recent editorial about his vile, race-baiting remarks about Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton. But at the end of the day and on the weekends, I retreat to the Equinox Sports Club in West Los Angeles to exercise and find solace (well, when people aren’t yakking on their cellphones against gym rules —but that’s a separate rant).
That’s where I was Wednesday night, working out on the Arc Trainer and watching the TV news, when up popped a story about Stephen Ross — the billionaire real estate developer, owner of the Miami Dolphins and majority owner of Related Cos., which owns Equinox and SoulCycle, among other properties — and the outraged calls from Equinox members and others to boycott the gym. Talk about meta.
I had already gotten an alarmed text from a gym-rat friend and Equinox member who said she was swearing off Equinox. And I had already read the Washington Post story breaking the news.
But there I was at the gym. And the statement by Equinox‘s managers disavowing any support for the event and affirming that they “believe in tolerance and equality” didn’t make me feel any better about the connection to Ross. (Although, I would have felt a lot worse had Equinox said nothing.) The statement also said that no company profits are used to fund politicians. Well, the company profits (off the literal sweat on my brow) that go to Ross are being used by him to fund Trump.
Nor did Ross’ statement make me feel better about his hosting the event. “I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability,” he said. Then why in the world is he helping pump millions into a Republican campaign to keep this dangerous dolt in office?
I think it’s great to call out and boycott business owners who are racist or homophobic or human rights violators — or who support politicians who are. I’m all for keeping a list of businesses that fit this profile. It’s an exercise of our free speech to channel our outrage into withholding our dollars. But that goes in all political directions. Abortion opponents could set up a campaign urging a boycott of a business owned by someone who financially supports Planned Parenthood. I’d personally hate to see that happen, but I get it that it could.
The bigger issue is this: It’s awfully difficult to disentangle your life from businesses and services you like that are run by people whose politics you hate. It’s even difficult to disentangle your personal relationships. I have a neighbor whose conservative politics drive me crazy. But that same neighbor is the person who found me in a pool of tears, sitting in my car one very lonely Christmas night several years ago, ordered me out of the car and up to her apartment for wine and play time with her cats.
I have no illusions about Stephen Ross having a heart of gold. But his gyms are pretty nice places for working out. We do this balancing test all the time in our lives. Stephen Ross owns Hudson Yards in Manhattan too. Will Trump critics stop going there?
I don’t like, at all, what Ross is doing. And what I would really like is for him to pull out of this fundraiser. But for the moment, I’m staying at the gym.