Ronda Rousey isn’t the first wrestler to questionably cash in on rainbow merchandise, but her history of transphobia makes us wonder why she thinks queer fans should be giving her their money.
It ain’t easy out here for LGBTQ WWE fans. The company has done its best to leave their shameful history of homophobia behind, but the results have been a mixed bag. For every cool Finn Balor WrestleMania moment, we get some garbage like the transphobic Bobby’s Sisters segment. WWE has been hinting at an LGBTQ storyline since 2016, but other than letting Sonya Deville rock rainbow gear every now and then, their programming remains unaffected. Also, they still employ Brock “I Don’t Like Gays” Lesnar, so that’s…not great.
It feels like someone at WWE has realized that LGBTQ people like wrestling and have money, but nobody at the company has realized they should probably put some thought into how they can make amends with the community before they start trying to pry our wallets open. At best, this comes off as thoughtless and dumb, and an attempt to wallpaper over years of profitable bigotry with a half-hearted shrug. At worse, it comes off as a cynical attempt to cash in on a population that they’ve insulted, belittled, and actively harmed in the past.
On a related note, Ronda Rousey has an official LGBTQ Pride Month t-shirt. Hooray?
A sincere question for the people who proposed this: do you think LGBTQ people are stupid, or do you just think we don’t know how to Google stuff?
Before Rousey popped up on WWE, she waged a campaign of transphobia against fellow MMA competitor Fallon Fox. Rousey’s claim contributed to a larger problematic trend of transgender women facing significant discrimination from gatekeepers like her in the world of sports. Consider the abuse heaped on Nyla Rose ahead of her AEW debut. Don’t a lot of those comments sound like what Rousey had to say about Fox, way back in the day?
The true irony of Rousey cashing in on LGBTQ Pride Month becomes apparent when you remember how it all began at the Stonewall Riots. The first Pride wasn’t a party, but a days-long protest against the authorities who routinely raided NYC’s gay bars to intimidate and brutalize the patrons there. Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Riviera, and other transgender rights activists carried on the momentum from Stonewall to create the Gay Liberation Front, a group dedicated to fighting legal injustice and improving the lives of LGBTQ citizens in New York City and beyond. Their initial marches laid the blueprint for Pride as we know it today.
It is astonishing to me that this needs saying, but I’ll say it: a transphobe should not get to cash in on a holiday that was created in part by transgender and gender non-conforming people. If Rousey (or let’s be real, her PR folks) had spent thirty seconds learning about the origins of LGBTQ Pride Month, they might have realized that. But I guess that time needed to be spent designing a very ugly t-shirt that nobody asked for, so well done, I guess?
Rousey has said a lot of other ugly stuff, too. She heaps casual misogyny on other women in lieu of developing the actual mic skills that would let her build heel heat without it, and her gay panic tweets at Becky Lynch don’t give us much reason to believe she’s evolved on gender and sexuality since her MMA days.
In short, Ronda Rousey should not be within twenty feet of a Pride T-Shirt. She should not even be allowed to look at a rainbow without sunglasses. Instead of giving her your money this LGBTQ Pride Month, how about supporting LGBTQ wrestlers and promotions instead? Buy a shirt from Candy Lee, or pick up one of the new rainbow RISE shirts that are being used to raise funds for Chicago-area LGBTQ nonprofits. If Rousey wants to sell me a rainbow t-shirt, she owes me and a lot of my friends an apology first.
We’re still waiting, Ronda!
EDIT: After this article was submitted for publication, Rousey announced on Instagram that the proceeds from the shirt would go to benefit the Didi Hirsch foundation.