Pro-wrestler CM Punk returned to the ring this weekend, using the opportunity to deliver a powerful statement in support of LGBTQ+ rights to a stadium full of fans.
After winning his return match, his first since September 2022, on the premiere episode of AEW Collision, which aired live on TNT Saturday night, the former World Wrestling Entertainment champion brought a fan holding a sign that read “Support LGBTQ+ Kids” into the ring.
The All Elite Wrestling champion used to cry thinking about his career ending if he came out.
Punk, whose real name is Phillip Brooks, took the opportunity to address the backlash he said he received after reposting an Instagram post from Chicago’s Pretty Cool Ice Cream promoting a limited-edition Trans Pride ice cream bar and a fundraiser for the local trans community.
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“I got a lot of hate for reposting that message,” Punk told the crowd. One anonymous commenter, he said, asked, “Why do you support that trash?”
Punk said he thought about replying, but opted not to. “You can’t argue with stupid,” he said.
On Saturday night, however, he told the crowd, “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, 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.”
“Support trans kids, support gay and lesbian rights,” he continued as the crowd cheered. “I want everyone to be themselves. Just do no harm to everybody else.”
Video of Punk’s comments went viral on social media. In response, Paleofuture.com founder Matt Novak wrote in a tweet that “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.”
Punk’s support for the LGBTQ+ community goes way back to his WWE days. In a 2012 tweet about North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which made it illegal to perform same-sex marriages or civil unions under the state’s constitution, he compared outlawing same-sex marriage to “having segregated drinking fountains.”