I’m an emotional girl. The things I love, I love with my whole heart. Often, I do so because they have loved me back at times when I have desperately needed it. Effy’s Big Gay Brunch wasted no time eliciting emotions I knew would surely come. Even days after The Collective weekend has ended, my eyes still fill with tears as I think of this show. It was an unforgettable moment in my 20+ years as a wrestling fan.
This show was special for a number of reasons. It featured such a diverse cast of wrestlers deserving of the spotlight in more than just a ‘special attraction’ role. Effy sought to highlight these amazing talents as not just LGBTQ wrestlers, but as WRESTLERS who were also LGBTQ. Collecting many of the best independent wrestlers on the scene today, including All Elite Wrestling’s own Sonny Kiss and Marko Stunt, Effy’s Big Gay Brunch was a statement in pride but also in incredible independent wrestling.
When I was a little girl, as I was learning who I was, there was no representation in wrestling that I could relate to. I didn’t see gay men and women that I could look to as examples. I remember that confusion hurting, wondering why the thing that I loved more than any other didn’t have people like me participating. Was I wrong? Was who I was not ok? These were real questions I asked myself as I grew up a fan.
Of course, there were in fact gay wrestlers. We just didn’t know them at the time. My first memory of a storyline involving gay wrestlers is WWE’s portrayal of Billy and Chuck in the very early 2000s. I remember being so fascinated and giddy with excitement as their angle progressed, finally seeing people like me on screen and in a wrestling ring. They weren’t just any wrestlers either, they were legitimate tough guys. Billy Gunn was already a legend and Chuck Palumbo was a powerhouse. They even won championships! I was in it and for the first time in my young life, I felt as if the two biggest parts of myself could coexist.
That didn’t last long though. When the storyline culminated with a wedding proven to be a sham, one giant joke, it broke my heart. The unfortunate audience reaction to a possible gay wedding solidified in my soul that I wasn’t normal and that the happy ending wasn’t to be for people like me. It took what that innocent 9-year-old had thought was representation and shattered it.
Now, I was 9. I was dramatic, and I was a fan of two characters in a story that had let me down. This is what wrestling is, stories that both uplift us and shatter us. That’s the appeal! So, I don’t look back at that story now with disgust or hate. I don’t share it now for anything other than context and as an example for how far we’ve come. Today, we have countless open LGBTQ wrestlers throughout the world. A few are even able to use their platform on national television for major companies. They can be themselves, with no apologies or gimmicks to explain their characters any more than anyone else would have to. It’s quite beautiful.
I became so emotional when I tuned into Effy’s Big Gay Brunch because I pictured the 9-year-old version of myself. I could think of her and be proud that she finally got to see a show like this, not just featuring people like her but FULL of people like her. My girlfriend, who is a brand new fan of wrestling, can tune in knowing she’ll always be a fan where shows like this are possible and people like her aren’t sideshows. That makes me smile.
Effy set the mood as soon as the cameras turned on, with his infectious smile, a dance, and a salute before the matches began. The legitimate pride could be felt from those in the ring and in the stands, as the fans gave the show all they had as well. That tone never wavered over the course of the few hours, and the wrestling consistently lived up to high expectations.
From start to finish, the show covered all the bases and had a little something for everyone. The tag match between Team SeaStars against AC Mack and Ashton Starr went on first. They had the responsibility of setting both the pace and the bar, both of which all four placed very high. From Ashton’s sass to Delmi Exo’s beautiful dropkick-senton combo and everything in between, fans were hot and ready for anything.
Dark Sheik and Still Life with Apricots and Pears wrestled what was perhaps the match of the show. They put on a submission clinic, linking a legend of LGBTQ wrestling with a unique talent in wrestling today. The 8-man match that followed hit all the right notes for those who enjoy violence and chaos, as brutality was not shied away from for a second. In a match where Mance Warner, One Called Manders, O’Shay Edwards, and Matthew Justice brought name power and recognition, highlighted especially well were the other four members of the match. Billy Dixon, MV Young, Joshua Wavra, and Levi Everett left impressions I will not soon forget.
After a brief intermission in which we were all entertained by dancing and Tony Deppen being Tony Deppen, we were given the match I had most looked forward to, one featuring two of my absolute favorites, Allie Kat and Jamie Senegal. Allie Kat was all of us when she nervously asked Jamie for a few innocent belly rubs, and Jamie, viciously refusing, played the villain brilliantly. The story they told may have seemed simple, but it was one only they could tell. While their characters are wonderful on their own, the talent in ring cannot be ignored. Working beautifully with each other, with heavy hitting strikes, and the thrilling dance of submissions and counters, these two put on a match I never knew I needed but am so thankful to have seen. The future is undeniably bright for both.
The Twink gauntlet was next and did much to highlight the big man Parrow, who mowed through the competition. Showcasing his power and adaptability, the match was both fun and thrilling. The story unfolded perfectly with Parrow finally succumbing to the young buck, Devon Monroe, right when we all thought he couldn’t be beaten. Marko Stunt stood in next against Effy, and it was everything you could’ve ever expected it to be. Effy is a whole mood to witness, meant in the best way possible. As soon as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road hits, your heart grows two sizes, and you know you’re about to witness something special. He and Marko didn’t let us down.
Wrapping up the show in the main event, was AEW’s Sonny Kiss and an absolute legend of wrestling, Cassandro. This was a match that linked generations, bridging the late 80’s all the way to today. No two people were better equipped or more deserving to anchor this amazing show than these two wonderful performers and human beings. They fought beautifully inside the ring and out, giving it all they had, and magic was made – as we all knew it would be.
As the show’s talent surrounded the ring following the match, the emotions could be seen on so many faces. They were certainly being experienced in my home as well. My girlfriend, even as a new fan, understood the gravity of the moment and what a show like this meant to everyone in wrestling.
Effy grabbed a mic and spoke, thanking Cassandro and Sonny Kiss. He praised them both for their accomplishments and meaning to the business. He paused after, staring into the hard camera with pride in his eyes and that infectious, beautiful smile. The moment was certainly not lost on him. After gathering himself, he said:
“It’s been a long way to get here. But I stand here today, at the end of quite possibly the gayest professional wrestling show that’s ever existed, with not just gay people, with not just straight people, with all my LGBTQ community, with all my allies, saying no matter what the wrestling is, if it’s good wrestling, we’re here for that shit! I love you all!”
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Thank you, Effy. Thanks for putting together a show that wrestling has needed for years. Thank you for showing my girlfriend that wrestling is inclusive and highlights people of all genders, races, and orientations. And thank you from me. I can finally put that confused and broken-hearted 9-year-old to rest and embrace how far wrestling has come. This show meant the world to so many.
Representation matters. So does good wrestling. In 2020, thanks to Effy’s Big Gay Brunch, they’re one in the same, and we’re here for that shit.
Article first appeared on WrestleJoy