Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling has invited GLAAD to speak to staff and talent after a video was posted online showing one of its stars, Bully Ray, subjecting a fan to an anti-gay tirade.
Bully Ray was caught on video shouting homophobic slurs at a fan during an Impact Wrestling taping for its Spike TV program in Chicago. Although the incident was not part of the program itself, video of the incident was posted online and drew strong responses from many wrestling fans. This led to a response from TNA Wrestling President Dixie Carter. She issued a statement through her Twitter account calling out Bully Ray for what he said while also making sure to include that his comments "would not be tolerated." GLAAD spoke with Spike TV spokesman David Schwarz, who reiterated that anti-gay language is "never tolerated" anywhere at the network, and said that this message has been conveyed to all of the network's staff and talent.
Carter has also invited GLAAD to address the TNA team about the harmful impact of anti-gay language, and what positive steps can be taken to ensure that all fans feel welcomed by TNA, whether LGBT or not.
The incident happened after the taping of the wrestling match as Bully Ray walked past fans and out of the arena. The video catches him calling what appears to be a random fan "faggot" and "frickin' queer." The incident starts at about the 6:15 mark below:
After the video was posted online, Bully Ray, who is TNA's reigning world heavyweight champion, issued a series of apologies through his Twitter account. The wrestler initially released this statement:
Made an inappropriate comment to a fan in Chicago. If anyone was offended by this...I do apologize. No harm was meant.
— Bully Ray (@REALBully5150) March 18, 2013
But he didn't stop there. The fan who was barraged by the homophobic slurs also received a personal apology:
@xxxbastienxxx. We're good bro. You did nothing wrong...I did. Careless of me to use those slurs. Sorry man!!
— Bully Ray (@REALBully5150) March 20, 2013
The tweets issued by Bully Ray are a step in the right direction because he does have the ability to positively and negatively affect wrestling culture. Through his previous stint with the WWE, as well as his current championship title under TNA, Bully Ray has gained a significant amount of fame within the professional wrestling community. Hopefully, his tweets are a sign that he recognizes the fact that he holds a high level of influence within the industry and that it shouldn't matter whether he was acting through a character. He seems to have realized the difference between having the bully persona as a way to overcome a wrestling opponent and using that same persona as a shield to insult a spectator with homophobic slurs. Hopefully, Bully Ray is learning that difference and will foster a positive experience for everyone involved with TNA in the future.