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GYM OUTLAWS ANTIGAY GARB

The battle between Beauvais' Fitness and Aerobic Center and members of the gay community appears to have been settled--but not without a low-key protest.

Three dozen members of Phoenix's gay community gathered the evening of July 15 at the gym on Eighth Place south of Camelback. The gay men were objecting to what they considered the gym's failure to stop a handful of body builders from wearing tee shirts reading "I'm straight--Not bent" and stickers that read "No fags." (New Times profiled the case in the July 3 issue.)

The protest consisted of the gay men--Beauvais' members and their guests--entering the club and changing into workout clothes that included tee shirts with an insignia reading "No bigots."

The protesters also presented a letter to club owner Matt Beauvais opposing "the present display of tee shirts and stickers directed toward the gay and lesbian community." The letter threatened a boycott of the gym unless Beauvais issued a written policy prohibiting the display of derogatory statements.

The action achieved its purpose. Later in the week, the gym posted a sign behind the front counter reading, "Absolutely no political or derogatory garments or accessories permitted in this facility. Failure to comply will result in expulsion from this facility."

A gym employee who refused to be identified described the sign as "a solution to a problem." He contends that the gym "is not discriminatory."

"I think we view the placement of a sign like that as sufficiently public," says one of the protesters, who requested anonymity. Of the protest he says, "From 90 percent of the people working out there we got a really good reaction. We gave out ten or fifteen shirts after we got there--some to women, some to men who didn't appear to be gay and some to gay men that I knew. So we had 45 to 50 people wearing the tee shirts in there."

Of course, he adds with a laugh, "We don't know if `political garments or accessories' can be aimed at our `No bigots' garments as well.

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Anna Dooling