Fitness First's Response to Homophobia

Public businesses shouldn't distribute homophobic material. Call me crazy. I wrote to my gym, Fitness First, for doing exactly that. They chose to distribute to their 68 Australian gyms a 'newspaper' which ran a homophobic editorial along with an article attacking children of gay parents. Here's my letter, followed by their response.

26 August:

Hi

I'm asking that your clubs no longer distribute the Daily Telegraph. My friends and I have found their recent homophobic rant offensive and hate-filled. I've attached the front page and the article which goes on to attack school children.

We know that the Tele only writes this to get a reaction. But I think we need to show that we have standards.

Their homophobia is part of a constant campaign that's not even party political--they've attacked Labor, Liberal and The Greens.

Given Fitness First's support of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, it makes sense that you wouldn't support such a publication.

Thank you for your time
Fitness First markets itself as LGBT-friendly to its inner city clients

Fitness First markets itself as LGBT-friendly to its inner city clients

Orion from Fitness First's customer service team came back with a well-crafted, I-just-work-here response.

31 August:

Hi Clinton

The Daily Telegraph is offered as a complimentary extra for our members to take if they wish. We in no way endorse the editorial content or any of the wide range of views expressed in the publication –often opposing on the same issue within the same edition. We acknowledge that some members will be delighted with their free paper, and others would prefer to leave it behind. With the second highest circulation for a newspaper in Australia, the Daily Telegraph is the newspaper with the broadest appeal that we can offer. We prefer to allow our members to make the decision for themselves as to whether they'd like to read it or not. We do not want to take this option away from all members, and we will understand if you decide to leave the paper rather than take it.

Cheers

Orion
An artist's impression of Orion from Fitness First

An artist's impression of Orion from Fitness First

There's irony that the decision of businesses like Fitness First (which is the largest gym chain in the world) to distribute the Tele adds to its circulation. Nevertheless, here's my response.

1 September:

Hi Orion

Thank you for your considered response. I take your points about the Tele's popularity, and that you don't endorse the content. Most ignore the front page altogether and quickly flick to Sydney Confidential or the sports pages. So I don't think its readers endorse the content either.

The day after 26 August, the Islamic community was vilified on the front pages, seeking to cause further division in our community.

It's so easy to be a spectator in our community. To not stand for anything.

"We have the courage to do the right thing" is one of your company's values; your "Winning Ways". Another is "We care about our communities". I'm asking you to have the courage to care.

Kind Regards

Unfortunately, our tete-a-tete finished there; I got no response. So Fitness First will continue to market itself as LGBT-friendly to its inner city clientele while giving wink-wink, nudge-nudge to all you homophobes out there.

(But not in a gay way).

Helping: promotional material for Fitness First's free newspaper offer. Let's hope they use it. You're welcome, Fitness First.

Helping: promotional material for Fitness First's free newspaper offer. Let's hope they use it. You're welcome, Fitness First.