Wrestler Finn Bálor stands with his LGBT fans, and discusses getting them represented on WWE TV
Irish wrestler Finn Bálor has said he stands with his LGBT fans – and has spoken out about getting the queer community represented on WWE television.
Bálor – whose real name is Fergal Devitt – caused a stir in April when he shone a light on the LGBT community during his WrestleMania debut.
The event – shown internationally and watched by over a million people each year – is known for wrestlers’ extravagant entrances into the venue.
Bálor choose to walk into the New Orleans stadium flanked by several members of the local LGBT+ community.
They followed Bálor as he entered, each wearing WWE Pride-inspired shirts to promote LGBT inclusion – a campaign spearheaded by the wrestler – in the sport.
The wrestler also donated 20 percent of the profits from the t-shirts to LGBT+ organisation GLAAD.
Speaking to American magazine Sports Illustrated, Bálor said that he wanted to make wrestling inclusive of LGBT people.
“I feel like —not that they were excluded, but sometimes they felt like they weren’t included,” he said. “That’s something I felt a responsibility for, to use the platform that I have for good and to help maybe a small amount of people for the right reasons.”
Bálor explained how he first went to the WWE to design the t-shirt but, after the project stalled for a couple of months, he got a friend to design a rainbow version of the Bálor Club symbol, which he then posted on Instagram.
He said this caught the attention of Stephanie McMahon, the WWE’s chief branding officer, who soon set the process back into motion.
“It’s crazy because it was kind of a couple months of me talking,” the 36-year old added.
“Tthen as soon as the right people heard it, it was almost instantaneously, ‘We gotta have this shirt out next week and we gotta talk to GLAAD ASAP and we’re gonna roll with it.’”
Talking about the reaction to the t-shirts, Bálor said: “I’ve had messages from fans who’ve said I’ve inspired them to come out to their family.
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“It’s incredible… What we do in WWE in the ring is important, but what we do and what we stand for outside of the ring is a lot more important.”
He said some people had warned him that certain fans could be alienated by his pro-LGBT message.
“My answer was if those people think like that, I don’t necessarily want them as my fans,” Bálor said. “That was a risk I was willing to take.”
He added: ““How I feel as a person and what I support as a person always remains the same.
“And that is continuing to support LGBT communities around the world.”