Punk, the former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champion whose real name is Phillip Brooks, spoke out in support of the LGBTQ+ community at the conclusion of a new show from All Elite Wrestling, AEW Collision. His remarks were in response to backlash he received over promoting an ice cream bar that supports transgender youth on Instagram.
His speech comes as many in the LGBTQ+ community warn of an uptick in anti-gay, and particularly anti-trans, backlash. Nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the United States so far this year, while a new poll found a decrease in support of same-sex marriage among Americans. In addition, Pride Month has been marked by a rise in backlash and protests to LGBTQ+ celebrations, while advocates condemn conservatives for embracing new anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric.
Punk mocked critics of the LGBTQ+ community when kicking off his speech, saying that “you can’t argue with stupid” before explaining why he has become such an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
“The reason I support trans kids, trans grown-ups, gays and lesbians is because I know when I was growing up, I didn’t fit in anywhere. That it was because of the clothes I wore, what my hair looked like, and the music I listened to. Those are all things I can rectify. I can comb my hair, I can listen to jazz, I don’t know what. But to be somebody who’s gay, lesbian, and especially trans, I don’t know what it feels like to be trapped in a body that I don’t feel I belong in. That is why I support that,” Punk said. “Because I know I didn’t fit in anywhere until I found pro-wrestling.”
He continued to speak to the cheering crowd: “Support trans kids, support gay and lesbian rights. I want everyone to be themselves. Just do no harm to everybody else.”
Videos of his speech amassed hundreds of thousands of views on Twitter by Sunday afternoon, with many praising his stance on LGBTQ+ rights. NBC News reporter Ben Collins wrote that his speech was “probably the best defense of trans rights I’ve seen in an arena full of people.”
Writer Matt Novak tweeted: “I don’t know anything about modern wrestling, but a stadium full of Americans cheering for trans rights is a great reminder that most people oppose the bigotry that’s on Fox News every day.”
Meanwhile, other Twitter users said they disagreed with Punk’s speech. “I agree with punk on most things, but not this one,” tweeted one critic, @Big_Ksuperking.
Newsweek reached out to AEW for comment via email.
Published: 2023-06-18 19:11:34