Several LGBTQ wrestlers comment on the shift that has occurred over the past number of years.
Over the past several years, professional wrestling has become more inclusive and there are now many LBGTQ wrestlers who are regularly spotlighted and featured on the independent scene and in companies as well. The likes of SmackDown Live star Sonya Deville, AEW's Nyla Rose, Jake Atlas and former WXW Television Champion Mike Parrow are among the many names who represent the LGBTQ community in pro wrestling.
VICE has a feature article on their site with Parrow, Charlie Morgan, Nyla Rose and several others within the wrestling business discussing their thoughts on what it means to them to be queer in wrestling and how the landscape of the business has changed over the years in regards to this specific topic.
(Here are a few excerpts from the piece):
"I grew up during the Attitude Era. Every other joke was a gay joke putting down gay men, that it was somehow weak to be gay. It was very difficult. I often talk about how the Chuck and Billy storyline [where two straight wrestlers pretended to be gay in order to enrage the crowd] affected me greatly, more than I even knew. Because it was the first time as a closeted teenager I saw characters similar to me… and when it ended the way it did it made me feel that wrestling did not respect LGBTQ wrestlers. The wrestling community as a whole often says that wrestling is for everyone, but to truly be for everyone, everybody needs to be represented. One of my major reasons I came out to the world was to be the wrestler I needed to see when I was young. I made the decision to be out because I got tired of living a lie. Before I made the decision Danny Burch gave me some great advice. He reminded me that I had felt alone, that nobody represented me… so wouldn’t it be worth it if I could help one person not feel like that? In 2019 my one hope is that every major company has an LGBTQ wrestler on their roster. I think the wrestling world underestimates the importance of visibility. There are many young talented athletes dying for an opportunity. If wrestling really is for everyone, let's have everyone represented."
"It’s absolutely amazing to see how many LGBTQ wrestlers there are coming forward. They’re able to inspire other people. Whether that’s a fan, a trainee, or another wrestler themselves. I came out in the ring in 2017 and it was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had. The decision to be out as a wrestler was a really long time coming.... I always knew it was something I wanted to show off and represent but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. When I started this badass gimmick of Charlie Morgan I was put on a platform at Pro Wrestling EVE. I told the promoter that I wanted to be open. They were all for it. We went back and forth on the best way to get it out there. How do you be an out and proud LGBTQ wrestler? How do you be the first person like that? So I did the promo and it was amazing. It was a crazy positive reaction. But a couple months later I did an interview where I was asked what it was like to be the first wrestler—period—to ever come out in a wrestling ring? I literally sat there and started to well up. It finally sunk in. That’s me. It’s so incredible to inspire other people to be OK and open with themselves and others."
"The wrestling industry used to be this over the top manly thing that really played to a target market of cis white heterosexual males between 12 and 25. Now it seems the industry is embracing the fact that wrestling has many components that appeal to an extremely broad array of people, and that even in doing that, it doesn’t have to change or compromise what it is at its core, a dramatic sports competition. Being trans, I don’t really have a choice compared to someone gay, les, or bi. People who don’t go through any physical changes when being out. My decision to be out as a bisexual, and be open about being trans was intentional. I want others to see the normality in a life that may be different than theirs. I want people to see that there is someone that may be like them thrive and hopefully it can help them find their own courage... it may not even be related to anything doing with sexual or gender identity, inspiration comes in many forms. Aside from getting to work alongside and learn from some of my heroes growing up, the biggest thing for me as a performer is definitely be seeing everyone in my family beaming with pride that after all these years to finally achieve one of my biggest dreams."
All Elite Wrestling's Nyla Rose will be in action tomorrow night at Fyter Fest where she'll be in a Triple-Threat match with Yuka Sakazaki and Riho.