CONTENT WARNING: this article will discuss and show a picture of a specific story of sexual assault, as well as homophobia
Effy’s Big Gay Brunch was one of the GCW shows featured at last weekend’s Collective. It heavily featured LGBTQ talent, with notable names such as Sonny Kiss and Cassandro. The Brunch is meant to showcase the talents of LGBTQ wrestlers, who often get brushed aside for not fitting the traditional norms of pro wrestling. While this is a beautiful intention to have, there was one particular moment that I believe did a much greater amount of harm than good for anyone in the community as well as outside of it.
This essay is not meant to indict the characters of the wrestlers involved, but rather to discuss a decision they made that I believe was ill-advised.
The moment I’m talking about occurred during the match between Effy and AEW’s Marko Stunt. Marko pulled out a dildo on a cookie sheet. Effy then attempted to choke Marko with the dildo by trying to force Marko’s mouth down onto it. Marko escaped by making the dildo spray up into Effy’s face.
It was one of many crude, sexual moments meant to inspire humor. I’m going to argue, though, that this spot in particular was very insensitive and went too far.
The Speaking Out movement was an equally devastating and enlightening moment in the wrestling world for all the pain it brought to light. One of the stories that garnered the most attention was the allegation against WWE’s Matt Riddle. Without going into detail, as this is not my story to tell, Riddle allegedly forced a fellow wrestler to perform oral sex.
The allegations are being taken to court soon, with heavy implications.The results of this story could bring about drastic change in the wrestling world, for much better or much worse.
There’s no way Effy and those who planned this spot were unaware of the Riddle allegations. Knowing this, the choice to include a spot that simulate forced oral sex on a penis seems insensitive at best, and a mockery at worst (and to be clear, I don’t want to believe it was a mockery, but I believe it’s possible to read the spot as such).
The false notion that gay men are predatory has wreaked so much damage on our community. These stereotypes still exist today, though we like to pretend that they don’t. With that in mind, Effy’s choice to have a spot wherein he forces a much younger, much smaller man’s mouth onto a dildo is dangerously close to evoking the stereotype that gay men are predators.
And I want to clarify, I don’t think minorities are required to always present themselves in a way that defies stereotypes. We are not obligated to prove ourselves to be better than what others think of us. However, in a wrestling show that’s meant to represent the LGBTQ community to pro wrestling, a culture with long-standing issues in regards to homophobia, we need to be conscious. For Effy, the headliner of the show, to use imagery of sexual assault in his match, seems incredibly irresponsible.
There are good ways to work homoeroticism into wrestling matches. In some cases, I’d argue that homoeroticism can increase the power of a match’s storytelling; just watch Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado, or any match between the Golden Lovers. In these matches, the underlying attraction or love between the wrestlers intensifies the match. Homoeroticism can also be used for some comedic instances, such as the trope wherein one wrestler is in love with the other, but they still need to have a wrestling match (I’m thinking of Cara Noir vs Pac, or Colt Cabana vs Danshoku Dino). Even more crude, sexual elements can be used in wrestling when there’s a time and place for them, such as the dildo with nails running through it featured in MV Young vs Casanova Valentine.
This spot between Marko Stunt and Effy, however, crossed a line. It was insensitive to the current, ongoing situation faced by Candy Cartwright, and overall in bad taste.