To close out Pride month on June 30, RISE booked a card full of LGBTQ+ wrestling talent for one huge show in Chicago, but the keyword there is “one huge show”. And EFFY spoke on it.
For those of you unfamiliar with EFFY, educate yourself. He might be the most entertaining wrestler on the independent scene, with god-tier merchandise and promo chops that your favorite wrestler could never match. (Unless your favorite wrestler is EFFY, in which case you are probably an awesome person and should be proud of your taste).
EFFY was one of the LGBTQ+ wrestlers booked at RISE’s “Pride & Joy” show on June 30 in Chicago, and he faced the supremely talented Shotzi Blackheart in a match for her Sabotage War of the Genders championship. He, of course, lost, because not even EFFY can match “The Ballsy Badass” in the ring.
But EFFY did something more important than wrestle. He spoke. Whereas others are worried about facing backlash from promoters or stumbling on their own words, the loquacious EFFY unleashed one of the most important promos in recent memory, calling out wrestling promotions for only booking LGBTQ+ talent at “Pride” shows instead of booking these incredibly talented wrestlers year-round.
In case you can’t watch the video right now (though I highly encourage you to do so), I have transcribed the most striking part of the promo below.
“Everybody’s booked. They are! Everybody’s booked! All this queer talent! Do you see what I’m saying? It only happens when there’s a gay event. It only happens when it’s convenient. It only happens when the gays are allowed to be celebrated. But hang on. I’ve got to thinking. Because it sounds like I’m a bitter guy, and EFFY is not a bitter guy. Understand this. I am everywhere. Coast to coast, Friday in California, Saturday in Florida. Today I just decided, I’ve got all this extra money, I’ve got all the booking in the world I need.
Why don’t we go let them know what’s going to happen when Pride month ends? When Pride month ends, all the gay talent is going to stop getting booked again. And they’re all so happy to have a booking right now that they won’t say anything about it. Everything out there right now is ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. So excited to be a part of this show.’ And then next month what happens? They go back to women’s wrestling. Is that what we did at first because it was hot? Are the gays hot now, and we just jump on it?
Here’s where we’re at, folks. I have nothing to lose. I beat up a child and I got more bookings! I talked crap about Gabe Sapolsky, I get more bookings! I am a microeconomy in the United States. I am not a $40 and a handshake. My bills are paid.
So I have nothing to be frightened by, by taking a stand here and saying tomorrow when July starts and everyone changes their Twitter profiles back from the gay flag, I will be watching and I will be waiting. And I’m very busy. Very busy. But this is just a warning. If you’re not booking queer talent correctly. If you’re not including EFFY. If you’re not putting it through my filter so I can tell you if it works or if it doesn’t, then it is canceled. It is buried.”
This is one of my favorite promos of all-time because it means something. It’s spoken from the heart by someone who feels he is in a position where he can speak for others. Unlike many of the other LGBTQ+ talent who are unable to get bookings to the extent EFFY is, they can’t speak out about this. They simply don’t have the power to, and there would be retaliation against them in the dirty, vengeful world of pro wrestling.
There could be backlash against EFFY from these promoters, too, but given the popularity of this segment and EFFY’s overall popularity, it would be so stupid that it’s a risk EFFY is willing to take. But understanding everything EFFY is about, I’m sure he’d do the same regardless of his own personal success because this is something that has to be said.
Because you know what? This is discrimination. Not booking LGBTQ+ wrestlers year-round is discrimination, because they are equally capable of entertaining a crowd. They can tell valuable stories in pro wrestling that others can’t, especially if they are able to do it, as EFFY said, through their own lens instead of being forced to fit a preconceived notion of queerness set by the straight person’s eyes. Which unfortunately, is something we see in movies, television, and wrestling far too often in 2019. Billy Porter has spoken frequently about this issue in Hollywood.
We need talent in wrestling to speak on these issues within the structure of the sport, and we need to amplify their voices. We need EFFY. And most importantly, we need LGBTQ+ talent to be booked in shows. We need to learn more about these wrestlers, we need to see their talent, and, most of all, we need to show promotions that we desperately want to see them.
This is about equal opportunity, career advancement, and financial equity. This is about making pro wrestling more inclusive and better as a whole, because, yes, pro wrestling stands to benefit from the talented LGBTQ+ wrestlers who haven’t been showcased nearly enough. You know, wrestlers like Ashton Starr and Billy Dixon.
So thank you for this promo, EFFY. And I’m looking forward to writing more about the awesome promos and matches involving LGBTQ+ talent in 2019, because we need to talk about them more in months besides the month commemorating the brave, enduring stand at Stonewall.