John Cena is the brother all LGBTQIA+ people need and deserve.

In a recent interview on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, the former professional wrestler and actor reminisced on when he used to defend his older gay brother from homophobic bullies.

Cena revealed that his brother Stephen, who he affectionally described as an “introvert” and “true nerd” – “like Revenge of the Nerds”  – had a difficult time in school because of his sexuality.

“Being gay in the 1980s in a small town in Massachusetts… Man, that’s an uphill climb,” he shared. “He just had a lot of character traits that weren’t in the ‘cool kid’ growl, and he’s also holding this secret that he can’t tell or talk to anybody about.”

“I really feel for what it must have been like for him growing up, but I also inherited that chapter of his social constructs,” Cena continued, before revealing that coming to his brother’s defence caused him to “lose a few fights”.

After Shepard questioned Cena on their “role reversal”, highlighting how it’s more “conventional” for an older brother to defend to his younger brother, the star responded: “That sort of behaviour started at like 10-years-old for me.

“I don’t think I understood what was going on. Kids are harsh. They form cliques real fast, and we always just hung out with each other. There was enough of us to have a basketball team, which means we could do whatever we want. We want to play football or baseball, there’s enough of us. So we didn’t feel [that] we needed anybody else.”

As Cena and his brother became involved with other groups of teens, he “took on the role of, ‘Hey, if you say something to the younger brothers, I will do my best to throw myself in harm’s way. It’s going to stop here.’”

Cena has continuously used his platform to be a passionate ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, having previously voiced his support for fellow wrestler Darren Young and NFL footballer Michael Sam after they came out as gay.

For an Independence Day advert in 2016, Cena teamed up with ‘Love Has No Labels’, a movement promoting “acceptance and inclusion of all people across race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and disability.”

In the video, he said: “Almost half the country belongs to minority groups – people who are lesbian, African-American, and bi, and transgender, and native American, and proud of it. What’s more American than the freedom to celebrate the things that make us, us?”

Since ending his wrestling career, Cena has become a major box office star with roles in blockbusters such as Trainwreck (2015) Bumblebee (2018), The Suicide Squad (2021), F9 (2021) and Fast X (2023).

He also made a cameo appearance as “Kenmaid” in Barbie (2023), and reprised his acclaimed role from The Suicide Squad as Christopher Smith/Peacemaker in the HBO Max series Peacemaker.