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As a long-time ally to the LGBTQ+ community, Dave Bautista isn’t afraid of calling people out for their homophobia—or of undergoing painful, expensive tattooing in the name of equality.

In a recent interview with GQ, the wrestler-turned-actor revealed that he covered up a tattoo of a fellow pro fighter that he used to think of as a friend, after that person publicly denigrated gay relationships. The friend in question was boxing champion and politician Manny Pacquiao, who made the homophobic comments in 2016, the year he was signed in as Senator of the Philippines, prompting Bautista to make some changes.

“It used to be a team logo,” the heavily inked Glass Onion star said in the interview, not actually mentioning Pacquiao by name. “I was part of a team of a person I considered a friend and someone I really looked up to. And then, he later came out publicly with some anti-gay statements and turned out to be an extreme homophobe. So, I had a huge issue with it. It’s a personal issue with me, my mom’s a lesbian. And I just could no longer call him a friend. So, I had it covered up.” He then showed off the sugar skull design that replaced Pacquiao on his forearm.

It’s far from the first time Bautista has spoken proudly and lovingly about his mother and the wider LGBTQ+ community. In 2022, during Pride season, he posted a photo of himself to Instagram wearing a rainbow-emblazoned T-shirt, with the message: “I was always proud of who my mom was because she was always proud of who she was. In your face, fuck you if you don’t like it, unapologetically loud and proud. And her son payed attention. BE LOUD, BE PROUD, BE YOU.”

Headshot of Philip Ellis

Philip Ellis

Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.

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