Fitness brand CrossFit suspended spokesman Russell Berger on Wednesdayafter he called LGBTQ pride a sin.
Effective immediately, Russell Berger has been placed on unpaid leave while management completes a thorough review.
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 6, 2018
CEO Greg Glassman phrased it just a little bit differently in his interview with BuzzFeed.
He said Berger “needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the fuck up’ and hide out for awhile. It’s sad. We do so much good work with such pure hearts — to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid, we’re all upset. The whole company is upset. This changes his standing with us. What that looks like, I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate.”
In a statement released Monday afternoon, he said he was “crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”
All this started after coaches at the CrossFit Infiltrate gym in Indianapolis scheduled a workout in support of Indy Pride, which organizes local LGBTQ+ events during June (pride month). The owners found out about this, and canceled it, according to Fox 59. Members got an email telling them “the owners of the gym value health and wellness, and they believe that this event does not.”
Many members, coaches, and staff quit the gym, an employee told the outlet. There’s a worry that the location may shut down. The location issued a statement in its defense.
“The unfortunate line that is being read about the gym grossly misrepresents what CrossFit Infiltrate stands for and what it believes,” CrossFit Infiltrate said in a statement in Fox 59. “The majority of the reviews and statements being read about the gym largely point out that Infiltrate’s community has been incredible and welcoming and that the decision not to host an Indy Pride event is the reason we are called bigots or discriminative. However, let the history of the gym speak for itself and for the position we take in this divisive atmosphere, CrossFit Infiltrate welcomes, serves, and prioritizes training people to be fit and functional in body, mind, and spirit. It never has and never will be anything but welcoming to all human beings who live, move, and breathe in God’s world.”
So what does Berger have to do with all this? He backed up CrossFit Infiltrate’s ownership in a now-deleted tweet thread. You can see screenshots of his posts below. He called “celebrating ‘pride'” a sin.
“The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing,” he wrote.
it looks like crossfit execs are celebrating pride month a little differently than other corporations pic.twitter.com/k1HGPm8PRA
— real housecat (@tousleshommes) June 6, 2018
“My actual point I was making, I still affirm it,” Berger told BuzzFeed in an interview. He said he is a church pastor, and often tweets about that and his work for the company. His tweets were “nothing I haven’t said before on social media.” But he also said he regretted that his comments could be interpreted as him speaking on behalf of his employer.
“It became way too difficult to discern between me making statements of personal opinion, and me speaking as a voice for CrossFit,” he said. “I should have realized that, and I didn’t until it was too late. I do regret it.”
[Screengrab of Berger in 2014 via YouTube/CrossFit]