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Boycott: Stephen Ross’s Trump Fundraiser Sparks SoulCycle, Equinox Backlash

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What happens when a very rich developer who happens to act as chief executive officer for a very large fitness franchise decides to throw a fundraising party for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign? Shit gets boycotted – that’s what happens.

It should come as no surprise to Stephen Ross that when you publicize your political alliances, the public has the opportunity and right to respond in a way that speaks the universal language of capitalism.

Billionaire Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner and chair of SoulCycle and Equinox franchise parent company, is hosting a Donald Trump re-election campaign fundraiser Aug. 9, 2019. Photo courtesy of Black Sports Online.

When your franchise relies heavily on urban fitness junkies like those seen wandering in and limping out of Ross’s SoulCycle and Equinox cardio torture chambers, you may want to guard your ideologies as closely as you guard your wallet. But caution be damned — Ross just couldn’t stand the shame of not being named among the 67 billionaires who have already donated to 2020 re-election effort.

Online backlash came immediately after reports began to circulate of the mogul’s planned $100,000-per-ticket Hampton’s fundraising soiree to benefit the Trump campaign, where the president and son-in-law will be ready and available to shake hands and give knowing winks to donors with an agenda.

Membership cancellations and boycotts of the fitness studios have since been posted all over social media, with some heavy celebrity hitters chiming in.

On a local level, members of San Francisco’s LGBTQ community are calling for a boycott of their own. A press conference will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in front of the SoulCycle at Castro and Market streets. The president’s policies and nominations since elected are a 180 from the pledge he made to protect the LGBTQ community on a stage in Colorado three years ago. He’s seated several judges with anti-LGBTQ records; turned back protections for trans youth, adult employees and military personnel; decided to take up the gender definition argument and ordered U.S. embassies not the fly the Pride flag. Those are just a handful of reasons, among many, that the LGBTQ community might not choose to spin their asses off at an establishment that lines the president’s pocket.

Ross also happens to own the Miami Dolphins. His choice to host a fundraiser for Trump didn’t sit so well wide receiver Kenny Stills. The tension between NFL players and owners, and the subsequent tension between players and Trump has been well documented, because, well…civil rights matter.

Some argue that boycotting businesses for ideologies and political donations is a bridge too far. But on the flip side, corporations and the billionaires that own them hold all the political power in this country, thanks to Citizens United. Until democracy is fixed so that “the people” wield power to govern their own lives, hitting the hijackers in their bottom line might just be the only method of civic participation left available.

Vote with your intellect and your heart at the ballot box, but by all means, vote with your wallet every other day of the year…and if you’re so inclined, feel free to skip that spinning class today.

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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