As fans of professional wrestling, we have been the target of bullying both online and in person. “Don’t you know that stuff is fake?” is a sentence we are all too used to hearing, as is “Wrestling is for little kids”. Adult male wrestling fans – you know, the ones that make up the majority of WWE’s fan base – often have their sexual orientation called into question and must endure accusations that they only watch professional wrestling so they can see greased up muscle men in tights touching each other.
While that certainly isn’t the reason we all love pro wrestling, it is hard to deny that the sport has some pretty heavy homoerotic undertones. In fact, professional wrestling has a long history with the LGBT community of which many fans are not aware. Some of the greatest performers in WWE history have been gay or bisexual, and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels has even described being gay in wrestling as “very eighties”.
Today, we’re going to be looking at some members – or supposed members – of the LGBT community who have made a name for themselves in the wacky world of professional wrestling.
Here are sixteen divas and wrestlers who “wrestle for the same team”.
16. Nicole Bass
Any of the aforementioned adult male fans of professional wrestling will remember the burly and destructive Nicole Bass from her stints in ECW and what was then the World Wrestling Federation. Those who are unfamiliar with her work really only need to know that she was essentially a clone of Chyna who was brought into WWE as Sable’s bodyguard during WrestleMania XV. She left the company shortly after debuting, citing sexual assault at the grubby hands of Steve Lombardi, otherwise known as The Brooklyn Brawler.
In 1985, prior to embarking on her wrestling career, Bass married a man by the name of Richard Fuchs. After her husband’s death in 2013, Bass entered into a same-sex relationship with Kristen Marrone, who was her business partner. Bass and Marrone would remained together until Bass died in February of 2017.
15. Matt Cage
Performing under the name Matt Cage, Matt Hullum has carved out a nice career for himself on the independent wrestling scene. He has worked with a number of well-known indie promotions such as IWA Mid-South and Dragon Gate USA. In 2011, Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked him as the 309th best wrestler of the year. Four years later, in the summer of 2015, Cage took to Facebook to announce that he is gay.
“For the longest time,” said Cage in the touching status update, “I claimed that I was bi-sexual. When I privately came out to people that already know, I told them that this was the case. And it was. However, I have no real intentions of pursuing females at this stage of my life.” Rather than being greeted by the onslaught of homophobic bullying and abuse that he had hidden from his entire life, Cage received an outpouring of support from his friends and family, as well as the entire professional wrestling community.
14. Sonya Deville
Up until recently, Sonya Deville could be seen competing in NXT under her real name, Daria Berenato.
Fans first became acquainted with Berenato during the sixth season of Tough Enough, which aired in 2015. It was during her time on the show that Berenato first publicly outed herself as a lesbian. Berenato later claimed that Tough Enough producers had no idea she was planning on revealing her sexuality on air but were happy to support her when she did so, as were the show’s judges and viewers.
Although Daria failed to win the competition – she was the third competitor to be eliminated – she was offered a contract by WWE officials, which was finalized in October of 2015. In signing her WWE contract, Berenato became the first openly gay female competitor in the company’s history.
13. Sonny Kiss
While not all openly gay wrestlers use their sexual orientation as the basis of their gimmick, Sonny Kiss does so perfectly.
Kiss, who is currently making a name for himself on the independent scene, has never felt the need to hide his true self from his co-workers or his fans. Referring to himself as “The Concrete Rose”, Kiss wrestles in what looks to be a racy combination of lingerie and the traditional ring gear; which, by the way, he totally pulls off.
Although Kiss, by his own admission, still relies on his day job at the reception desk of a residential community to pay the bills, he has more than the necessary talent to become a major star in the world of professional wrestling. It may only be a matter of time before we see his fabulous rear-end in NXT.
The romantic life of former WWE Intercontinental Champion Chyna was the topic of much discussion during her lifetime. She was most famously involved with Triple H from 1996 to 2000. However, that relationship came to an end after Hunter began seeing his future wife, Stephanie McMahon. Chyna then entered into a relationship with Sean Waltman, better known as X-Pac, which resulted in the drug and alcohol fuelled sex tape which launched her adult film career.
During her time in the adult film industry, Chyna performed alongside both men and women, meaning she had no shortage of female sexual partners in her life. For example, one adult parody of superhero blockbusters, Chyna – playing the character of She-Hulk – can be seen getting intimate with another actress.
11. Darren Young
In the introduction to this article, we made reference to Shawn Michaels and his description of homosexuality in wrestling as “very eighties”. When Michaels made that comment, he was answering a question posed by a TMZ reporter in relation to the coming out of WWE Superstar Darren Young.
Young’s coming out was such big news as it made him the first active homosexual performer in the history of WWE to acknowledge their sexual orientation in the media. Shortly after Young’s announcement, WWE published a statement in support of him on the company website. Dozens of wrestlers both in and out of WWE took to Twitter to congratulate the former tag team champion and commend him for his bravery. In an interview with Afterbuzz TV earlier this year, Young announced that his mother is also gay.
Paige is a former WWE Diva’s Champion and for a long time was the only woman on WWE television who had any ounce of actual wrestling talent. She was a cornerstone of the WWE Women’s division for a long time but is currently at odds with the company due to her controversial relationship with Alberto El Patrón. Patrón, to whom Paige is currently engaged, left WWE under acrimonious circumstances last year and has since accused company officials of holding him down because of his ethnicity.
Despite her apparent willingness to sacrifice her career for a heterosexual relationship, Paige has exhibited bi-sexual tendencies in the past. For example, images which surfaced online in 2014 show the former NXT Women’s Champion passionately making out with a golden-haired, leather-clad woman on top of a pool table during what looks to be a very drunken night.
9. Chris Kanyon
Chris Kanyon is one of professional wrestling’s greatest tragedies. The Queens native, who was a promising in-ring worker – spent the majority of his adult life struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality. After joining WWE at the beginning of the new millennium, Kanyon finally accepted his sexuality and began informing his friends and family that he was gay. He even suggested to WWE officials that he come out on television while maintaining a respectable win/loss record, essentially being a wrestler who just happened to be gay. Vince McMahon, however, didn’t think the idea had legs and instead believed Kanyon was best used as a Boy George impersonator (fans may remember The Undertaker demolishing Kanyon, who was clad in a wig and women’s clothing).
Even after coming to terms with his sexual orientation, Kanyon’s life remained a struggle. He left WWE in 2004 and spent the next half-decade battling various substance abuse issues. He took his own life on April 2nd, 2010.
8. Rosa Mendes
Rosa Mendes recently left WWE after a bafflingly long run with the company. Mendes’ decision to retire from the in-ring competition was spurred on not by her total lack aptitude for professional wrestling, but by the birth of her first child.
While she is currently living an idyllic family life with her daughter, Jordan Elizabeth, and her boyfriend, Bobby Schubenski, Mendes has had a number of tempestuous flings with both male and female partners.
Rosa’s bi-sexual leanings were captured on camera and exposed for the world to see in a 2015 episode of Total Divas. After enjoying a night out with Paige, Mendes cupped the Brit’s face and planted a very long, very wet kiss on her lips. Paige, for some inexplicable reason, rejected Mendes’ advance, proving that heartbreak, just like love, knows no gender.
7. Orlando Jordan
Although Orlando Jordan never publicly announced his bisexuality during his time with WWE, he made no effort to hide his sexual orientation behind the scenes. He would regularly bring his male partner to WWE events and is rumored to have pitched company officials a storyline which would have seen him embrace his sexuality by performing a series of lewd acts on-screen. Although Vince McMahon was not crazy on such a gimmick – WWE was still recovering from the PR disaster that was Billy and Chuck – Jordan would begin to portray the character when he joined Impact Wrestling in 2010 (back when it was TNA).
After leaving Impact Wrestling just one year after making his debut, Jordan relocated to Australia, where he entered into a relationship with a woman. He married said woman in October of 2013 and the couple welcomed their first child, Dakota Mae, the following year.
6. The Fabulous Moolah
When it comes to women’s wrestling – or even professional wrestling as a whole – few people have had more of an impact than The Fabulous Moolah. Moolah first began her wrestling career in the 1940s and quickly established herself as one of the finest “girl wrestlers” in the world. She is perhaps best remembered for her Attitude Era stint with WWE, where she appeared in a series of comedic sketches and even became the oldest Women’s Champion in WWE history.
In the early sixties, after a series of unsuccessful relationships, Moolah married Buddy Lee, though the couple divorced in 1970 after nine years together. In the later years of her life, Moolah’s sexual orientation was a topic of much discussion among fans and industry insiders alike. Although The Fabulous Moolah never commented publicly on her sexuality, legendary announcer Jim Ross outed her as bi-sexual in a 2015 edition of his Ross Report podcast.
5. Terry Garvin
Unlike other homosexual male wrestlers of his era, Terry Garvin made virtually no effort at all to conceal his sexuality. In fact, Garvin was, by all accounts, quite proud of his sexual orientation, which is refreshing. What isn’t refreshing, however, is the number of times he was accused of sexual assault by young men hoping to make it in the wrestling business.
Perhaps the most infamous incident of Garvin harassing a young man came in 1992 when he was employed by the then WWF. Garvin was accused of sexual assault by Tom Cole, who had been working as a ring boy during the time of the altercation. The accusations shone a harsh light on what was a disturbing sub-culture within the World Wrestling Federation and sent the McMahon family into panic mode. In order to save face, Vince McMahon fired Garvin, who died six years later without ever being prosecuted.
4. Mae Young
Mae Young’s wrestling career began in 1939 and it would be a full 60 years before she stepped away from in-ring competition entirely. Throughout her time as a professional wrestler, Young captured the NWA United State’s Women’s Championship and the NWA Florida Women’s Championship, among other coveted prizes.
When The Fabulous Moolah returned to WWE during the Attitude Era, Mae Young followed suit. Together, the two created some of the most captivating television of the time, their on-screen partnership heightened by their real-life friendship. However, many have claimed that Young’s relationship with The Fabulous Moolah – who, as we now know, was bi-sexual – was not just a platonic one. According to multiple professional wrestling insiders, Young and Moolah were romantic partners, a claim which is supported by the fact the two lived together from 1991 right up to the latter’s death in 2007.
3. The Grand Wizard
The Grand Wizard is considered by many old-school wrestling fans to be the greatest wrestling manager of all time. When one watches footage of The Grand Wizard – real name Ernie Roth – in action, it’s impossible to deny that he set the bar for wrestling managers. With his camp antics and over-the-top wardrobe, Roth seamlessly blended wrestling and entertainment. Through The Grand Wizard character, Roth, who was homosexual, was able to indulge his camp personality, which he was often forced to tone down on the streets of 20th century America.
Roth passed away on the 12th of October, 1983, just prior to the golden age of the World Wrestling Federation. Although those close to The Grand Wizard knew he was gay during his life, it was not until after his death that his sexuality became public knowledge.
2. Sandy Parker
Sandy Parker began her wrestling career at the age of 23 in Ontario, Canada, where she was living at the time. Shortly after, she relocated to South Carolina and began to train with The Fabulous Moolah. Parker spent much of the 1970s competing around the world, making regular trips to Japan, where she captured both the WWWA World Championship and the WWWA World Tag Team Championships. However, this success was not enough to convince her to stay in the wrestling business and she abandoned her athletic career in 1986.
Throughout her childhood, Parker was described by her friends and family as a “tomboy”, a reputation she earned through constant fights with members of both sexes. Although she was once married to a male, she is a lesbian and made little effort to cover up her sexuality even during the height of her fame.
1. Pat Patterson
Pat Patterson’s homosexuality was arguably the worst kept secret in the history of professional wrestling. For much of his time as an active performer, Patterson’s sexual orientation was common knowledge among those involved in the wrestling business. As time went on, word of his sexual preferences trickled out into the public and his homosexuality was kind of just accepted without any fanfare or questioning (the way it should be).
However, Patterson himself would not acknowledge his sexuality in public until 2014, when he came out during an episode of WWE’s Legend’s House, cementing his reputation as a company man through and through. While long-time fans of professional wrestling were not in any way surprised by Patterson’s announcement, the mainstream media went, as the man himself would say, banana.