By Brittany Tesoriero and Cosette Nuñez
The director and head boxing coach at the BCBA Community Sports Center shows no remorse after homophobic posts on their Facebook page made in January were highly criticized by the LGBTQA-Visibility Coalition.
“If you have an identity crisis we don’t deal with that,” Ray Bittinelli, the director and head boxing coach at BCBA, told two of our reporters, who visited the gym on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Bittinelli had originally declined to comment, but after the reporters turned off their recorders, he approached them with the statement: “We deal with empowering kids here.”
Bittinelli also called the conflict between the LGBTQA-Visibility Coalition and his gym “nonsense.”
The coalition held a rally against the gym’s trans and homophobic posts on their Facebook page, which were made in January, and have since been removed. The post linked an article about the new “beauty boy” face of Maybelline, a make up company which recently unveiled its first gay male beauty star, Manny Gutierrez. The BCBA’s Facebook page captioned the article saying, “And then there’s boxing! BCBA helping young BOYS BECOME MEN, since 2004.”
The gym, which has a 13-year-long history of branding itself as a community sports center, repeatedly calls young children “snowflakes,” meaning someone who is hypersensitive to insult or offense. The gym claims to turn boys into men without high heels or makeup.
The lack of sensitivity is what stood out to Jay Guercio, a member of the LGBTQA-Visibility Coalition. “The issue we had with them was that they claim they are a community oriented business, and they host anti-bullying programs, but what they are doing is bullying,” Guercio said.
A more recent post on the gym’s Facebook reads, “Back to doing what we did best…Turning boys into MEN! And no, these men don’t wear high heels or makeup!” Statements like these do not promote a safe environment for LGBTQA youth says Guercio.
The lack of LGBTQA inclusive gyms on Long Island has become apparent to organizations like the Long Island LGBT Community Center.
The organization provides their own youth programs due to the lack of inclusive gyms around the Woodbury area, where their main center is located.
But in order to become more inclusive, local Long Island gyms may need to look elsewhere for a better example.
That might be as far as Scotland.
Ewen Mcpherson started an LGBTQA-friendly boxing club, Knockout, based in Glasgow, Scottland. His is only the first of its kind in Scotland, and the second in the United Kingdom.
“The community needs to come together to challenge homophobia,” Mcpherson said when asked what local gyms on Long Island can do to become more inclusive. “Homophobia is alive in accessing sports.”