June is Pride month, an annual celebration of the LGBTQ community in hundreds of cities around the country. Thousands of businesses big and small participate in the festivities by sponsoring parades, hosting events specifically catered towards the LGBTQ community, or — at a minimum — displaying a Pride flag in the window to signify they welcome queer clientele.
CrossFit Infiltrate initially opted for the second option. Trainers at the downtown Indianapolis gym scheduled a Thursday evening workout to celebrate this weekend’s Indy Pride parade. But the gym’s owners quickly put the kibosh on the whole thing, citing their religious objections to homosexuality.
“We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride,” wrote the owners of the gym in an email to members who were upset at the decision. “Humility is seeing oneself as they truly are, and as God truly defines them to be. As a business we will choose to deploy our resources towards those efforts and causes that line up with our own values and beliefs.”
What might have remained a local story of blatant bigotry instead became a national controversy on Wednesday after an employee of CrossFit — the national corporation that licenses its branding, intellectual property, and other resources to hundreds of independent affiliates around the country — expressed his support for the gym’s owners, and used the opportunity to air his own homophobia for good measure.
“Thank you #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing by your convictions and refusing to celebrate sin by hosting an @indypride workout,” said CrossFit’s self-proclaimed Chief Knowledge Officer Russell Berger on Twitter. “The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.”
Reaction to his comments were swift, but Berger remained steadfast — for a few minutes, anyway. “Allow me to double-down. I believe @indypride is a celebration of sin, as do most Christians,” he said in response to the blowback, before quietly deleting all of his tweets.
Within hours, CrossFit placed Berger on unpaid leave, and denied that Berger ever held the made-up role of “Chief Knowledge Officer.” By Wednesday evening, Berger was out of a job entirely, and CrossFit moved swiftly to patch over the sizable rifts that had emerged between the company and its LGBTQ clientele.
CrossFit is a diverse community in every way, and that’s what makes us strong. No matter who you are, how you’re built, what you believe, or who or how you love—we are proud of you.
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 6, 2018
As for CrossFit Infiltrate, the Indianapolis affiliate that started this whole kerfuffle, members and trainers alike quit in protest in response to the owners’ bigotry. By Wednesday evening, the gym had shuttered for good.