Princess Diana. (Getty)
Princess Diana worked out a queer men’s gym because she “really liked gay guys” and she felt “at ease” around them, according to pioneering entrepreneur Jeremy Norman.
In the 1990s, Norman set up Soho Gyms, a chain that catered primarily to gay men – and Princess Diana, of course. She was a member of his Earl’s Court Gym at the time of her death, he said.
“It’s not really much discussed, but she really liked gay guys,” Norman told PinkNews.
“She really felt at ease with gay men, she could relate to them and she didn’t feel threatened by them in any way.
“They were just friends she could hang out with. And when we bought the Earl’s Court Gym when I was expanding the Soho Gyms group, she was a member there.”
Norman added: “That was the gym she was a member of when she died, and she would work out there. I think we closed the gym for a couple of hours three times a week for her.”
Princess Diana had an ‘enormous’ impact on public perceptions of HIV and AIDS
Jeremy Norman made the revelation in a recent interview with PinkNews along with his husband Derek Frost, where they discussed their activism around HIV and AIDS and Frost’s new book Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS.
When AIDS was decimating the LGBT+ community in the 1980s and 1990s, Princess Diana helped challenge stigma and discriminatory views by visibly hugging and holding hands with HIV positive patients.
In 1987, Princess Diana famously opened the UK’s first purpose built HIV/AIDS unit in London and made headlines by holding hands with a young man with the virus.
Speaking to PinkNews, Frost said Princess Diana had an “enormous” impact on public perceptions of HIV and AIDS.
“She did it absolutely knowingly. Who knows what her private motives were, but she was undoubtedly a very compassionate lady. She took a very, very definite decision in the face of all the stigma against AIDS to say, ‘Actually, I know I’ve got huge influence and I’m going to huge this person or touch their hand.’”
He added: “She liked gay people… I think she genuinely felt that it was utterly tragic that so many young people were dying, as we all did, and she did something about it.”
Norman was diagnosed with HIV in 1991. At that time, there was no effective treatment for the virus.
However, he survived to see antiretroviral medication become a reality in 1997, which enabled people living with HIV to live long, healthy and happy lives.
Norman and Frost went on to found AIDS Ark, a charity that works to secure vital treatment for people with HIV who live in parts of the world where medication is inaccessible.
The full interview with Norman and Frost can be read here.
Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS is out now. All revenue due to the author will be donated to AIDS Ark.