Pro-wrestler CM Punk delivered an impassioned speech in support of LGBTQ+ rights over the weekend at the conclusion of a new show from All Elite Wrestling, AEW Collision.
The former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champion, whose real name is Phillip Brooks, spoke out in support of the LGBTQ+ community in response to backlash he received over promoting an ice cream bar that supports transgender youth on Instagram.
His speech comes as nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the United States so far this year. In addition, Pride Month has been marked by a rise in anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric from right-wing influencers and politicians.
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 were viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter by Sunday afternoon, with many praising his stance on LGBTQ+ rights.
NBC News reporter Ben Collins remarked that his speech was “probably the best defense of trans rights I’ve seen in an arena full of people.”
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— Christine (@ShiningPolaris) June 18, 2023
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.”