A professional Scottish wrestler has hit out at homophobic trolls, as well as homophobia in sport more generally, reports the Daily Mirror.
Christopher Saynt, aged 22, from Clydebank, has competed in over a hundred professional matches but has been targeted with vile abuse on several occasions on account of his sexual orientation.
He has suggested that other gay wrestlers may be too afraid to come out.
Saynt came out in January 2014, using social media to tell his fans and others in the wrestling community. Many voices were supportive, but others have since trolled him and sent hateful messages.
Speaking at the National Union of Students’ annual LGBT conference, Saynt said: “I can’t pretend it was easy coming out as gay to the wrestling community, and I worried about whether I’d be accepted by fans and fellow wrestlers. While my colleagues have been really supportive, some people have struggled to accept my sexuality.
“I’ve had some hate mail and negative responses from them, but I’ve also had huge encouragement and positive messages from many more. I’ve had people send me emails saying we don’t want to pay money to see your shows. I know of other wrestlers who are too scared of the reactions they’d get if they were to come out.
He continued: “It’s a sign that prejudices still exist. When it comes down to it, wrestling is a bunch of men in their underwear, cuddling angrily. Wrestling is a very homoerotic sport – you can get two men in their underwear cuddling and hitting each other. It would be hugely hypocritical to have homophobia within our sport.”
Last year, in conversation with The Herald, Saynt explained that “a few have taken it [coming out] negatively, but that’s their choice. Some people said I did the video for publicity. But I’m not just claiming to be the first openly gay wrestler in Scotland – I have looked into it and I am.
“It upsets me that I’m the first, when you think that it’s 2014.”
Saynt insists that there is a great deal of gay influence within sport but that much depends on “the mentality of the fans and other players”.
Lani Baird, NUS Scotland LGBT Officer, said that a change of culture is needed: “It’s great to see someone like Christopher Saynt challenge the negative stereotypes and assumptions that are still attached to sport, and wrestling in particular.
“Some people will put you into a box without really understanding your identity or sexuality, and then reject you from the team.
“Sports shouldn’t just be for straight macho types – it’s for anyone who wants to get stuck in and be part of the team.”