As a young man, Mike Parrow did not feel represented in sports.
For the last eight years, Mike Parrow has been a professional wrestler who has worked for promotions like PROGRESS, Major League Wrestling, EVOLVE, and WWN. When he began his wrestling career he was still "in the closest" and did not come out publicly until last year. In an interview with Orlando Sentinel Conversations, he talked about finding role models growing up playing football and moving onto professional wrestling.
"First, I've always known I was a homosexual, I always knew I was gay from day 1," said Parrow "Growing up there was no such thing as strong role models for gay men. There's no sports stars...and I'm a sports guy. In my area, I didn't have a lot exposure to any homosexuality. If a person was gay they kept it quiet or you knew they were gay but they were very flamboyant," he continued.
While competing in sports, Parrow said he was given an idea of what people thought of homosexuality from "locker room talk" which was not the best representation of public opinion. He said he felt like the locker room was not a safe place to come out.
Because he never felt represented in sports, Parrow said that's why he began to share his story.
“I didn't tell my story for the guy who came out when he was 16 or the guy that doesn't play sports. Mine is more for that 14 year old, in a locker room, that doesn't know how to deal with this,” said Parrow. "I actually wish I told my teammates because what I learned was my teammates are like family and as long as you answer their questions, they are going to support you," he added.
He came out "as a process" over four years by telling his tag team partner, his family, and then he started telling wrestlers until he finally made a public statement online. He said NXT wrestler Danny Burch convinced him to do the first online interview about his sexuality.
In the rest of the interview, Parrow discussed his time in college football, becoming a wrestling fan, and the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando.
His comments can be heard on Episode 35 of Orlando Sentinel Conversations.
View the discussion thread.