Canada's First Dedicated LGBTQ Gym to Close After Being Targeted by Far-Right Group

Canada's first LGBTQ gym has announced it is to close, months after its staff and members became the victim of a "malicious" intimidation campaign by a far-right group.

The Queerflex gym in Edmonton, Alberta, confirmed it will close its doors on February 29, five months after the fringe group Patriot Pride Canada Wide published personal details of those associated with the gym online, a process known as doxxing.

"Although we have been assured by multiple channels that this small group has not been known to show themselves in person, we do not want to take any chances with anyone's safety," the gym said in September while announcing partial closure to ensure the safety of its members, employees and volunteers.

Queerflex, which opened in 2016 and acted as a safe space to the local 2SLGBTQIA+ community to exercise in, said it "deeply regrets" the decision to close the gym for good as it is no longer financially viable to keep it running.

In a statement, Queerflex said that it experienced a loss of earnings as a result of canceling all classes in the wake of the doxxing, as well as attempting to find ways to improve safety measures at the gym.

"Despite all our best efforts as a volunteer-run Board, the lack of revenue from the cancellation of our group classes and memberships in September ultimately challenged the financial sustainability of our organization," the statement said.

"The decision to close the doors to the Queerflex gym permanently has come as a result of careful consideration of all possible alternatives.

"The Board of Directors is deeply committed to creating safer spaces for our community and this decision has not come lightly. We wouldn't be here without the dedication and the support of our community and its allies, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

Parker Pothier was one of those who attended the gym. He described how he will struggle to find another place where he feels safe and accepted after Queerflex's closure.

"One of the rules that was the most important to me is that there was no body shaming or diet talk allowed at the gym," Pothier told CBC.

"There were no mirrors; there were no scales to step on; all the calorie counters on the electronic machines were all covered up.

"There are other kinds of gyms but there is nothing like Queerflex, nothing is accessible as Queerflex."

Edmonton Police's hate crimes and violent extremism division investigated the doxxing by Patriot Pride Canada Wide, but no charges were brought forward.

"We recognized the impact on the staff and the community however the matter did not meet the threshold for criminal charges," Sergeant Gary Willitz told The Globe and Mail.

Edmonton Police has been contacted for further comment.

In a statement to Newsweek, Edmonton's Mayor Don Iveson said: "We were very disappointed to hear about the reasons for the closure and we understand that it is being investigated by the Edmonton Police Service.

"All Edmontonians deserve to feel safe and behaviour from any group that perpetuates hate and discrimination is not welcome in our city. We need to foster inclusiveness and understanding not walls that divide us."

Patriot Pride Canada Wide is believed to be affiliated with the anti-Islam group The Clann.

The Clann made national news last January after its members allegedly scouted out the Al-Rashid mosque in Edmonton, the oldest mosque in Canada, in order to "provoke" the local Muslim community.

LGBTQ gym
A Rainbow flag flies above the San Diego Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center November 5, 2008 in San Diego, California. Canada's first gym LGBTQ gym has announced it is to close after it was doxxed by a far-right group. Sandy Huffaker/Getty
Canada's First Dedicated LGBTQ Gym to Close After Being Targeted by Far-Right Group | World