After their bombastic body slams and signature moves in the ring, these pro wrestlers have a message for the world. Unbeknownst to many, they’re members of the LGBTQ community, and they’re breaking barriers by the hour. Here are all the LGBTQ pro wrestlers you never knew about, and the inspiring stories of how they publicly came out and shared their identities and truths with the world.
1. Darren Young
It was back in 2013 when Darren Young, originally named Fred Rosser, came out as gay to the world. The fact that he did this as a member of the WWE was even more of a big deal, considering such a thing had never been done before on such a big stage. Well aware of the elevated platform he holds as a prominent athlete, Young has done much for the LGBTQ community.
A major advocate for his community’s rights, Young started a campaign called “Block The Hate”, doing his part to put a stop to discrimination. Additionally, he incorporates his orientation into his wrestling image, implementing the rainbow flag into his in-ring presentation. If there’s something even bigger than accepting yourself for who you are, it’s being able to share that acceptance with the rest of the world.
Paige has been around the wrestling scene for years now, but has only come out as bisexual rather recently. As a member of the cast of Total Divas, the reality series documenting the lives of female pro wrestlers, she’s no stranger to the spotlight. But it was during one of the episodes that the world was shocked by something she revealed.
After fellow LGBTQ wrestler Rosa Mendes kissed her on the show, Paige stated later, “I feel like it’s ok to do these days. It’s like the 21st century.” This prompted Mendes to further ask if Paige had been with other girls before; to which Paige responded, “Well yeah, it’s the 21st century — I just said that.”
3. Mike Parrow
If there’s someone who knows what it’s like to do a complete 180 in their lives, it’s certainly Mike Parrow. A popular athlete known for appearing in various All Japan Pro Wrestling events among other things, for the longest time, he didn’t actually didn’t think he was gay.
In an interview with Good Morning Britain, he poignantly relayed to the show’s hosts, “I tried to cure my homosexuality.” However, he eventually came out of the closet publicly, and took things a few steps further as well. In his wrestling outfit, he includes glints of rainbow as a testament to his journey — and hopefully to inspire others to do the same.
4. Nyla Rose
Here’s one popular athlete who’s taken the wrestling world by storm in recent years, which included winning the AEW Women’s World Championship. Nyla Rose made history when she became the first openly transgender woman in U.S. wrestling. However, while other athletes within the LGBTQ community have made their orientation a part of their onstage persona, that’s not how Nyla Rose rolls.
She separates that part of her life from her wrestling, but off the stage she’s as vocal and pro-active as they come. During a 2019 Pride and Joy event, Rose could be seen rocking a rainbow-themed wardrobe, alongside fellow LGTBQ wrestler Sonny Kiss.
5. Sonya Deville
Sonya Deville, originally named Daria Berenato, is yet another young and talented individual who made history in the sports world. She was the first ever WWE wrestler to openly come out as lesbian — and she certainly wouldn’t be the last. Since then she hasn’t looked back, making sure to fuse her LGBTQ identity with her stage persona.
For instance, during her first ever appearance in WrestleMania, which took place in 2018, Deville color-coded her entire outfit to be rainbow-themed. On such a massive WWE stage, this was pretty brave and courageous. Now, other wrestlers are being emboldened to follow in her footsteps.
6. Jake Atlas
Jake Atlas has been making his rounds over the years on the independent wrestling scene — and those who have watched him are aware that he’s a member of the LGTBQ community. He makes no bones about hiding it, and throughout his early wrestling career his onstage persona consciously reflected this facet of his identity.
However, as Atlas’ fame grew, he began to draw the attention of the WWE, and although this was a great opportunity, he was less comfortable about wearing rainbow-clad uniforms in the ring. Nevertheless, with other WWE wrestlers such as Darren Young leading the way, Atlas remains one of the leading faces of the new generation of out wrestlers.
7. Rosa Mendes
Rosa Mendes came out to the world in a somewhat unorthodox way: through a reality show. In a 2014 episode of the reality series Total Divas, which covers the lives of young aspiring female wrestlers, Mendes came out on air as bisexual. However, she made sure to remind everyone that when it comes to how she defines her identity, things aren’t so simple.
She stated that even though she had been with women before, she was actually “more into guys”. Additionally, she used to be in a well-publicized long-term relationship with musician Bobby Schubenski, and even has a child with him. She remains to be a major voice for the LGBTQ community.
8. Charlie Morgan
Charlie Morgan was another wrestler who came out of the closest in one of the bravest ways possible. It was late 2017, and Morgan was featured as a marquee name in a Pro Wrestling: EVE event. With millions of fans around the world watching, she told the world that she was gay.
For those who think it’s easy to out yourself in such a manner, Morgan is here to remind you to think again. Yet even though she admitted that she was extremely nervous beforehand, she was also positively overwhelmed by the amazingly supportive response she received from her legions of adoring fans.
Dubbed the “Mexican Sensation”, Cassandro has been through quite a journey in his quest for meaning and artistic expression in the public eye. His stage name used to be Mister Romano, and during the period he went by that name, the world had no idea he was gay.
Eventually, it was the encouragement of fellow wrestler Baby Sharon that got him to step outside of his shell, and to invite the world along for the ride. Cassandro eventually became the face of a wrestling style called exótico, which involves wrestlers dressing up in drag. Nowadays he’s considered to be a pioneer and inspiration for young kids to express themselves in any way they choose.
10. Lola Starr
Although Lola Starr wasn’t the first openly trans wrestler, she was certainly one of the initial voices coming out publicly within this profession. And when the LGTBQ community isn’t that large in a certain industry, it becomes a lot easier to stand out.
For this reason, Starr’s decision to come out to her fans was incredibly courageous. As part of the young and thriving independent wrestling community, Starr is yet another one of the pioneers. Standing up for equal rights and acceptance, we have a good feeling we’ll be seeing — not to mention hearing — a lot more of her in the coming years.
11. Shayna Baszler
We all have a dream, and some of us are bold enough to pursue it. But how far is one willing to go to reach their intended heights? In the case of Shayna Baszler, it’s not so much how far she’s willing to go, but rather what she’s willing to ignore. The thing about wrestlers of the LGBTQ community is that they’re not only scarce; their identities are also sometimes swept underneath the rug.
A prominent member of the WWE brand, Baszler isn’t told to hide who she is — but her employers haven’t exactly been screaming it from their rooftops either. Nevertheless, over the years Baszler has been part of the effort of raising awareness and acceptance for athletes of all lifestyles.
Diamante, also known as Angel Rose and Priscilla Zuniga, is best known for her work under the Impact Wrestling brand, where she made a strong name for herself as a queer woman in the sports world. However, while fellow LGBTQ wrestlers like her haven’t always been able to be themselves, Diamante has a slight advantage.
She happens to be dating yet another female wrestler from the LGBTQ community, the inimitable Kiera Hogan. So not only does she have a partner to stand by her side through the storms that life can sometimes bring, but her partner is basically in the same elevated boat as her.
13. Kiera Hogan
Another member of Impact Wrestling, it’s no surprise that Kiera Hogan and Diamante connected with each other behind the scenes. Hogan happens to be one of the biggest voices in the LGBTQ wrestling community, sharing her insights about her experience during Pride month.
She wrote online, “On this final day of Pride month, I first want to start by saying, look how far we’ve come. Growing up I was bullied and having my life threatened just for being me.” She later continued, “This year I vowed to myself that I was going to be unapologetically me. To be happy with who I am.” What an inspiring way to touch her audience’s hearts!
14. Mercedes Martinez
It actually wasn’t that long ago — July 2019 to be exact — that Mercedes Martinez told the world that she was lesbian. This WWE female wrestler has dipped her toes into quite a few corners of the wrestling world, making a name for herself worldwide.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a network that won’t hire Martinez, and that’s because she always delivers on all cylinders. As a professional athlete who’s appeared in promotions like World Xtreme Wrestling, Women Superstars Uncensored, and Shimmer Women Athletes, it’s certainly a win for the LGBTQ community that such a successful athlete is speaking up for them so widely.
15. Dave Marshall
Dave Marshall started off his professional career as a personal trainer, but later expanded into the world of professional wrestling. Two years before he got into wrestling, he told his then-girlfriend that he was bisexual. Two years after that, he came to terms with the fact that he was actually identified more as gay than bisexual, and told the world as much.
Amazingly enough, he received support beyond what he could’ve previously imagined: “My family, even a very homophobic uncle, were all very supportive.” Marshall has also been very vocal about the importance of acceptance, due to increasing rates of anxiety and depression in not just the LGBTQ community, but society in general.
16. Piper Niven
Piper Niven is showing the world what a Scottish wrestler with gumption can do if they set their mind to it. After making noise within the industry for years, Niven eventually scored a gig with the WWE under their NXT UK brand, under which she also performs using the stage name Viper.
As recently as September 23rd, 2019, also known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day, Niven came out to the world as bisexual. About a month later, she announced that her boyfriend had proposed to her and that she said yes. Her fans are supportive of her journey, and can’t wait to see where her life goes next.
17. Kris Wolf
Although Kris Wolf can’t technically be considered a millennial (she was born in the early ’80s), she’s still used their platforms as well as anyone in order to further her causes. She’s retired from the wrestling scene, yet Wolf is very vocal online about everything she’s passionate about, including the fight for LGBTQ rights.
A self-outed lesbian, she announced her marriage to her partner in January 2019, and the pair can be seen canoodling in multiple photos on her vibrant Instagram page. Those who follow her are immediately struck by her wacky yet contagiously positive disposition — and her fanbase is still growing!
18. Orlando Jordan
LGBTQ or not, all wrestlers have to grapple with storyline issues involving their characters. Due to the fact that pro wrestling is all scripted, a theatrical act, often promoters are looking to present someone with a compelling stage persona who can accurately fit into the big picture.
An openly bisexual athlete, Jordan’s image didn’t always fit the narrative that the WWE authorities were aiming for. Jordan still managed to keep a steady gig throughout this time period, but eventually he moved on to be an independent wrestler. Things weren’t much easier there either, so he eventually retreated under the radar to become an owner of two thriving wrestling schools.
19. Sonny Kiss
If one meets Sonny Kiss in the ring, they’d better hope he doesn’t hit them with his signature move, the “Sonny-Side Up” (okay, sure, it’s cheesy — but you have to admit it’s also pretty catchy). Signed to an organization called All Elite Wrestling, Kiss is yet another one of the rising LGBTQ stars in the wide-ranging wrestling world.
With a wide background in dance, Kiss often uses his moves during his wrestling routines, and the fans love him all the more for it. Fans are also obsessed with Kiss’ longtime relationship with boyfriend and fellow wrestler Killian McMurphy, which has been going on since 2017.
20. Jack Sexsmith
The cool thing about a progressive society is that there are younger generations building new bridges based on the paths that the pioneers before them paved. In the case of Jack Sexsmith, who’s an up and coming wrestler, he’s laid his cards all out on the table. This man doesn’t hold anything back, and he’s proud of it!
Pretty much everything about his stage persona — or at least, his conscious image — is geared towards being provocative. Regarding his orientation, he publicly stated on Twitter the following: “I’m not gay. I’m not straight. I’m not even bi.” Then he clarified, referencing a popular superhero with fluid preferences, “I’m pansexual! Essentially, I’m the Deadpool of the wrestling world.”
21. Matt Cage
After WWE wrestler Darren Young made history by coming out as gay to the world, Matt Cage may have been inspired to do the same. A wrestler for various American organizations like Dragon Gate USA and IWA Mid-South, Cage realized that he had the power to do a lot of good by allowing people into his intimate world.
However, he was dealing with yet another internal revelation: “For the longest time, I claimed that I was bisexual. However, I have no real intentions of pursuing females at this stage of my life. Sorry, ladies. I’m officially pulling myself off of the market. Don’t hate me too bad.”
22. DJ Summers
Here we have DJ Summers, yet another openly gay wrestler who’s still in the middle of climbing his way to the top. Although he isn’t a member of the WWE brand yet, he works for Celestial Bodiez, which is a company owned by Kaitlyn, an ex-WWE legend.
Similar to many other youngsters on this list, Summers is writing a new story for future generations to build on. With his flamboyant outfits and boyish charm, he is changing the DNA of the way we think about wrestlers. On his Instagram, he can be seen sharing his various experiences as a gay member of the wrestling community — and his many followers are benefiting from his influence.
23. Anthony Bowens
Anthony Bowens believes in so much more than just impressive wrestling performances on stage. As entertaining as he is to watch, his physical moves on the mat are only a fraction of why he’s important to the wrestling community. After coming out to the world as bisexual in January of 2017, he’s provided a major voice for many other members of the LGBTQ community who were scared to come out.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Bowens stated fervently, “I get messages from people that make me cry. To know that I’m having a positive impact on people is a blessing, and makes me feel that I made the right decision to come out.”
24. Jim Sterling
Jim Sterling is far from your conventional type, on a handful of levels. Although not a member of the WWE, Sterling thrust himself into the wrestling community through the unexpected avenue of YouTube. On his show The Jimquisition, he dresses up into all kinds of wrestling personalities, often in the form of parody.
Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that he’s famous enough to have ruffled some feathers, and revealed his true colors along the way. He came out to his followers as both pansexual and queer, furthering the visibility of LGTBQ members in the wrestling scene. In the case of Sterling, frankly, nothing he can do would really surprise us anymore.
25. Candy Lee
Yet another powerful voice from the LGBTQ wrestling community comes from the exuberant Candy Lee. Based in New Zealand, she’s a trans woman who’s gained career traction as a two-time women’s champion for the New Zealand branch of Impact Pro Wrestling. Lee has had a lot to say about her journey as well as the future of trans people in sports.
As she explained in an emotional interview, “When it comes to trans issues, I feel like not enough people listen to actual trans people’s experiences.” She continued to decry the treatment of the trans community, stating: “There is a line that people shouldn’t cross, and they cross it all the time. People downplay trans people.”
26. Jordan Blade
Another rising star in the underground wrestling scene is none other than Jordan Blade. She’s trailblazing her way through the industry as an open bisexual, as described on her Twitter account. But Blade brings so much more to the table than just diversity.
As described by a fellow wrestler, Blade’s ankle lock finisher “practically guarantees victory” – which is probably why she earned herself the nickname “Anklebreaker”. A power-lifter who doesn’t need a leg up from anyone, look for Blade to make a big name for herself over the next few years. If she keeps up this work ethic, she’ll be on the WWE in no time!
27. Eddy McQueen
Eddy McQueen wasn’t happy when he found out that straight wrestlers were pretending to be gay as part of a fictional wrestling storyline. As a member of the LGBTQ community himself, it didn’t sit well for him: “They don’t know what it’s like,” McQueen explained to Vice magazine. “They haven’t had to deal with the bullying. It’s not authentic, and it’s like a slap in the face.”
It’s one thing to be an out wrestler, but it’s another thing to proactively stand up for LGBTQ rights in the face of adversity. McQueen clearly hasn’t had the easiest road in life, but it’s nice to see him hold his ground on such sensitive matters even when it’s hard.
28. Cassius The Neon Explosion
Not to be confused, of course, with the legendary boxer Cassius Clay (later named Muhammed Ali), Cassius The Neon Explosion is a London-based wrestler with a razzle dazzle image that stuns opponents before the match even starts. An open gay wrestler, he proudly displays rainbow colors in his wrestling attire for the entire world to see.
He frequently talks about his experiences as an out wrestler on his Instagram page, which is rising in new followers by the day. With a striking well of confidence in his back pocket, Cassius The Neon Explosion looks to be a valuable asset in the LGBTQ wrestling community for years to come.
29. Tommy Purr
Tommy Purr doesn’t care who he’s facing in the ring – he won’t let them off the hook no matter what. In fact, Purr is well known for his endless trash talking and frequent feuds he gets into with various wrestlers.
An openly gay wrestler, Purr also had some choice words to say about straight wrestlers who “act” as gay for the purpose of scripted entertainment storylines: “I don’t necessarily mind or get offended by the gimmicks,” said Purr. “I wouldn’t be offended by a gay guy playing a straight character. But what does happen is that gay wrestlers don’t get the opportunity to show audiences that we are athletic and just as tough as the straight wrestlers.”
30. Solo Dyne Darling
With all the different LGBTQ wrestlers that are on this list, there are surprisingly not that many pansexuals. Except for Solo Dyne Darling, that is. In fact, on a recent Instagram post she proudly stated: “I am Pansexual. I am Mexican, Puerto Rican & Italian. I am proud. I am a fighter for love. We are unique in all the world.”
Indeed, we are all very unique in our own way, and it’s comforting to see another person accepting themselves for who they are. Reason can only assume that she’ll make it easier for other pansexual athletes to tell the world their truth without being afraid of getting discriminated against.
31. Rick Cataldo
Rick Cataldo, a self-professed gay drag queen, told Vice magazine his blunt opinion about other straight men who portray homosexuals in the ring: “There’s a problem when these straight guys who play gay characters. Those guys are just heteros mocking us gays and making coin.”
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Cataldo’s main stage name is actually Boy Divain, which he uses in the indie wrestling circuits. On his vibrant and colorful Instagram page, he writes on his bio that he considers himself to be an activist, a New York City socialite, and a visionary as well. With the courage Cataldo has proven to have, this sounds like another point for the LGBTQ community.
32. Devon Monroe
There aren’t many people in the history of wrestling who have risen in the charts as quickly as Devon Monroe. Under the stage name of “Black Sexcellence”, the young 21-year-old athlete has a certain charisma about him that engulfs every room he walks into – and every ring as well.
An open member of the LGBTQ community, Monroe commonly sports rainbow-themed colors while he engages in rigorous body-slams and other tricky acrobatic feats in the ring. Regarding his sexuality, he seems very confident about himself, especially when he posts comments like “proud to be living MY truth” on his popular Instagram page.
33. Still Life With Apricots And Pears
No, this was not a type – this wrestler’s stage name is indeed Still Life With Apricots And Pears. They consider themselves to be non-binary, and therefore must be referred to as “they” instead of “he” or “she”. Among the LGBTQ community in the wrestling world, a non-binary preference is actually not very common – which makes this person all the more brave for openly being one of the first.
“Still Life” has also racked up some impressive accolades as well, including the title of the Chikara Young Lions Cup. The young wrestler has managed to make an impact on multiple levels, and we look forward to seeing what they do next.
34. Dark Sheik
The beauty of wrestling is that no matter who you are, you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. The possibilities are endless, and Dark Sheik is yet another great example of someone who lives their unique truth to the fullest.
First of all, she is openly trans – which isn’t exactly common in the wrestling community. Secondly, many consider her to be the “undisputed queen of cosplay”; meaning that she frequently dresses up in highly detailed costumes of various fictional characters on stage. Combining cosplay with wrestling sounds like a match made in heaven – but more important is her relentless spirit, which has kept fans especially intrigued.
35. Russell Rogue
Russell Rogue’s stage name isn’t for nothing. He’s truly out to cause chaos – or at least that’s what his stage character is all about. Rogue is bisexual, and openly says as much on his social media accounts. But even though he promotes peace, equality, and acceptance, that doesn’t mean he’s looking to make friends in the ring.
Again, this is probably just his stage character, but watching his sinister ways can be quite entertaining! A budding professional looking to make an even bigger splash in the wrestling world at large, we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a lot more famous in a few years to come.
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