Video of professional wrestler CM Punk delivering a speech in support of LGBTQ+ rights went viral on social media over the weekend.
Punk, the former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champion whose real name is Phillip Brooks, spoke out in support of the LGBTQ+ community at the end of a new All Elite Wrestling show, AEW collision. His comments were in response to backlash he received for promoting an ice cream bar that supports transgender youth on Instagram.
His speech comes as many in the LGBTQ+ community are warning of an increase in anti-gay, and particularly anti-trans, backlash. Nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in US state legislatures so far this year, while a new poll found a decline in support for same-sex marriage among Americans. Additionally, Pride Month has been marked by an increase in backlash and protests over LGBTQ+ celebrations, as advocates condemn conservatives for embracing new anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric.
Punk mocked critics of the LGBTQ+ community as he opened his speech, saying “you can’t argue with stupid people” before explaining why he has become such an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
“The reason I support trans kids, trans adults, gays and lesbians is because I know that as a kid, I didn’t fit in anywhere. That was because of the clothes I wore, how my hair looked, and the music I played. I was listening. Those are all the things I can rectify. I can do my hair, I can listen to jazz, I don’t know what. But for someone who is gay, lesbian, and especially trans, I don’t know what it feels like to be trapped in a body that you don’t I feel like I belong. That’s why I support him,” Punk said. “Because I know I didn’t fit anywhere until I found professional wrestling.”
He continued to speak to the cheering crowd: “Support trans kids, support gay and lesbian rights. I want everyone to be themselves. Just don’t hurt others.”
Videos of his speech racked up hundreds of thousands of views on Twitter Sunday afternoon, with many praising his stance on LGBTQ+ rights. NBC News reporter Ben Collins wrote that his speech was “probably the best advocacy for trans rights I’ve ever seen on a crowded stage.”
Writer Matt Novak tweeted: “I don’t know anything about modern wrestling, but a stadium full of Americans rooting for trans rights is a great reminder that most people oppose the bigotry that airs every weekday.” days on Fox News”.
Meanwhile, other Twitter users said they disagreed with Punk’s speech. “I agree with punk on most things, but not on this one,” tweeted one critic, @Big_Ksuperking.
news week contacted AEW for comment via email.