B.C. gym owner faces backlash for 'straight pride' graphic on business card
Owner says he did not intend to offend anyone, just wanted to express himself
The owner of a gym in Armstrong, B.C., is facing backlash from the community after a Facebook post criticized a graphic that reads "straight pride" on his business card.
Peter Nenasheff, who has owned Fitness 2 Life for 12 years, had the cards printed in August 2019.
Armstrong resident Joshua Schutte learned about the cards on Wednesday, and took to social media to voice his concerns about the image.
"I faced coming out in a very strong religious family, [which] had its negative implications on me and, as a 29-year-old man, that damage has followed me all through my life and that's not OK," Schutte said.
"People just need to be aware of this and be making educated choices as to where they're spending their money and what facilities that they're promoting."
Schutte said promoting straight pride comes from a place of hate and discrimination.
"Straight pride was born to rally against the LGBTQ community," Schutte said.
"It's only a thing because there is hatred towards other communities. Gay people have had to fight for our rights."
But Nenasheff sees his use of the straight pride image as a way of showing he's proud of who he is — a heterosexual man — not to make LGBTQ people feel belittled.
"I am proud that I'm a straight guy," he said.
"I [take] no offence if someone is proud that they are gay. Everybody has their right to choose their lifestyle they want to live or or whatever it may be and I don't get offended if someone has gay pride on their window or car or wherever it may be."
Since Schutte posted the card online others in the community have come forward with concerns; Nenasheff said he's received several emails and phone calls about the card.
"I said I apologize for that," Nenasheff said. "By no means am I trying to target any specific people or offend anybody. That is just my freedom and my expression that I put on [the card]."
He said that anyone, including Schutte, is welcome at Fitness 2 Life.
"I accept everybody into the gym race, colour, nationality or anything like that. I don't discriminate."
He said he's also received messages of support.
Schutte said friends of Nenasheff have contacted him, asking him to call Nenasheff to have a conversation about the cards, but he doesn't think the conversation would go anywhere.
"It would just be a lot of back and forth," he said.
Nenasheff said that while his intention was not to hurt people, he wouldn't change his use of the straight pride graphic, instead he would include that everyone is welcome at the gym on his business card.
But Schutte thinks he should remove the image from his cards, and make a public apology.
Additionally, he hopes people learn from this, and call out discrimination when they see it, like he did.
"Change doesn't happen just sitting in your living room being comfortable, right? Change happens when you leave your comfort zone, when you're pushing the boundaries on political views and standing up for what you believe in."
With files from Dana Kelly