After his tank top was deemed “too gay” by a Singaporean gym, one man shared his story on social media where it quickly viral.
Last week, Jee Leong Koh worked out at the SAFRA Mount Faber Club Gym wearing a top that read “Gay But Not Yet Equal.” After he finished exercising, he was contacted by the gym manager who told him that his tank had bothered some of the other patrons.
“I asked him how many people complained,” Koh wrote on Facebook. “He repeated, some, and elaborated, more than one but not many. He also said that ’the social issue’ was sensitive nationally, and that SAFRA could not allow any social advocacy.”
“I explained that I was not trying to change any social policy, but I was just wearing a tank top specially designed by a New York designer. I should have also said that I wasn’t standing by the water cooler and passing out flyers, I was just working on my pecs and butt, like other gym users.”
“They would not have complained if my tank top had promoted a national heart campaign,” he concluded. “They were, in fact, complaining about my being gay.”
In the days since he shared his story on Facebook, the post has been shared hundreds of times and garnered over 1,000 likes. The incident gained so much national buzz that SAFRA was forced to make a statement.
“We have also spoken to the gym users who gave the feedback,” the gym told Channel News Asia. “From our conversation with Mr. Koh, we believe there was no intent to cause discomfort to other gym goers so we hope this can be resolved amicably.”
Same-sex partnerships are not recognized in Singapore, and there are no anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBT people. This May, Pink Dot, a nonprofit that organizes the nation’s annual LGBT Pride celebration, had to tell foreigners not to attend this year’s rally to avoid violating new laws intended to keep outsiders out of domestic politics.
Despite government efforts to restrict the size and scope of Pink Dot, over 20,000 people showed up in Hong Lim park last month to celebrate Pride.