SINGAPORE: When Mr Koh Jee Leong turned up at the gym on Thursday (Jul 13) wearing his usual tank top with the words "gay but not yet equal," he was told that some gym users at SAFRA Mount Faber were not happy.
According to Mr Koh, a few people previously complained to the gym manager, accusing him of "trying to change a sensitive social policy or issue."
"I asked him how many people complained. He repeated, some, and elaborated, more than one but not many," Mr Koh wrote on this Facebook page, in a post that is making its rounds.
"He (gym manager) also said that 'the social issue' was sensitive nationally, and that SAFRA could not allow any social advocacy."
Mr Koh, a Singaporean poet based in New York, is a frequent user of this gym when he returns to Singapore every summer.
He said he explained to the manager that he was not trying to change any social policy. "I was just wearing a tank top specially designed by a New York designer, I should have pointed out, but I didn’t at the time, that the tank top did not refer to Singapore at all," he wrote.
He added that the gym manager agreed that the complaint was "subjective," but also pointed out that "the majority could be dissenting quietly."
"I asked him what he would like me to do. He said he was not going to ban me from the gym but would ask me to be sensitive to other gym users," said Mr Koh.
In a statement sent to Channel NewsAsia, SAFRA said Mr Koh's attire did not contravene any of the gym's rules and regulations.
"We have also spoken to the gym users who gave the feedback. 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," said SAFRA.
It added that when there are disagreements between gym-goers every now and then, SAFRA tries to mediate to the best of its ability.
As for 10pm on Thursday, Mr Koh's post has been shared more than 300 times and chalked up nearly 900 likes.
"The complainants ... would not have complained if my tank top had promoted a national heart campaign. They were, in fact, complaining about my being gay," he argued.
Mr Koh said his conversation with the SAFRA gym manager lasted about 15 minutes, describing him and his staff as "totally courteous and reasonable throughout." He was also allowed into the gym dressed in his usual tank top.