Liberals and activists across the country celebrated a victory in social progress rather recently as the United States passed a law legalizing gay marriage across the entire country. While some conservatives may be complaining about the new era, it’s certainly something worth celebrating in the eyes of the vast majority. It marks an historic new time of social acceptance, and already more people have been inspired to come out with their sexuality.
This even extends into the macho world of professional wrestling. Professional sports has garnered a bit of a reputation when dealing with the sexual preferences of its athletes. They haven’t been portrayed as particularly accepting, especially the perceived “manly” sports like professional football. It may surprise you then to find that the WWE is refreshingly open and accepting of all forms of sexuality. In fact, there have been many openly gay wrestlers and managers throughout the league’s history.
This attitude extends beyond the WWE into the other leagues that have been formed throughout the course of the sport. Leagues like the NWA and TNA have also produced examples of gay or bisexual athletes. We’ve looked through the records to put together a list of such athletes for your reading pleasure. Read on for a list of ten professional wrestlers who self-identified as gay.
The wrestling scene in Mexico is rather similar to the structure of the WWE in terms of how they establish the characters of their luchadors. Their league is based on the stark contrasts between good guys (tecnicos) and bad guys (rudos). Within these categories is a subset of wrestlers called the exotico.
These wrestlers dress in drag and exude feminism while wrestling other stars. Not all of them are actually gay, but Cassandro is one example of an exotico who is open about his homosexuality. He says the leagues portray the exotico characters as sort of clownish, designed to make people laugh. It doesn’t bother him though, and he has continued to wrestle with some success in the Mexican leagues for several years.
9. Rosa Mendes
Mendes first entered the wrestling scene through the reality competition series Total Divas. She competed in the show alongside future Divas star Paige, and throughout the show there were revealing segments in regards to Mendes’s sexuality. Specifically, she frequently came on to fellow competitor Paige and was quoted as saying she is “her type.”
Mendes has since come out as bisexual, revealing that she has had several relationships with women in the past. She is currently in a relationship with Bobby Schubenski, the co-owner of an underground clothing line. Her sexuality hasn’t hampered her wrestling career in the slightest, as she continues to wrestle successfully to this day.
8. Tylene Buck
Buck’s story is somewhat similar to Mendes’s, though her sexuality has played a much larger role in her career up to this point. Buck first broke into the wrestling world in 1999, wrestling for the WCW as a member of the nWo Girls. She wrestled as the character Major Gunns.
Buck’s wrestling career died out after a few years bouncing around some meandering storylines. She had few notable storylines, and was released from the WCW by 2001. After trying her hand at Xtreme Pro Wrestling for a while, she retired from the sport for good, turning to a different industry entirely. Buck is bisexual and now working as an adult actress, performing in front of web cams and in adult films.
7. Terry Garvin
Garvin was a Canadian born professional wrestler who most notably achieved success within the NWA league. He managed to win several Tag Team Championships of various sorts throughout his career, and after years of wrestling in the lower tiered leagues he was offered a chance to wrestle with the WWE by the late 1980s.
His WWE career is likely one the league wished it could sweep under the rug. Garvin was openly gay throughout his time as a wrestler, and unfortunately also became entangled in a series of sexual harassment cases that brought a plethora of bad publicity to the league. The case was even the topic of a Larry King Live episode with Vince McMahon. Several former wrestlers called in claiming Garvin accosted them, including Randy Orton’s uncle Barry Orton.
6. Orlando Jordan
Jordan is perhaps one of the more successful wrestlers to make an appearance on this list. He first began his WWE career in a televised event in 2003, defeating Jamie Noble. Over the years of his ring side efforts, he’s wrestled alongside superstars like John Cena and The Undertaker, and feuded with the likes of Chris Benoit. With such hallowed company, it’s clear he was a big name in the league throughout his career.
After leaving the league for the TNA, he proposed a new bisexual angle for his character. The angle took off and was a major facet of his character until he stopped wrestling. He is now openly bisexual. Currently, he works in his wrestling schools he has opened in Australia, where he lives to this day.
5. Ernie Roth
Ernie Roth was a mainstay in professional wrestling from way back. He was known as the Grand Wizard of Wrestling or Abdullah Farouk. While he wasn’t a wrestler himself, per se, he was a highly influential manager to some of the greatest and most infamous heels in professional wrestling history (the Sheik being a prime example). He was given just as much exposure as the wrestlers of his time, and for that reason we feel comfortable including him on our list.
A Hall of Fame inductee in 1995, Roth was always sporting flamboyantly colored turbans and sequined jackets when he was next to the ring coaching on his wrestlers. He was openly homosexual, and his sexuality has even been discussed in documentaries including The World’s Greatest Wrestling Managers.
4. Chris Kanyon
Kanyon’s tale is at once tragic and confusing. He debuted in World Championship Wrestling, and actually managed to carve out quite a successful professional career. Storylines with Diamond Dallas Page led to him being included in the Invasion angle when the WCW merged with the WWE.
He continued to wrestle until around 2004, when he retired. He would make a limited return to the TNA merely a few years later, but failed to truly catch on. After he was released from his WWE contract, he ran a story angle claiming he was released due to his sexuality. He later said it was a publicity stunt designed in tandem with the league, but he also openly admitted to actually being gay. Throughout his life, he struggled with bipolar disorder, and he tragically passed away in 2010 after committing suicide.
3. Darren Young
Young bears the distinction of being the league’s very first actively wrestling openly gay superstar. He first debuted on the very first season of NXT, and continues to foster a career that has left many talented wrestlers in its wake.
In August, 2013, Young opened up about his sexuality for the first time. He claims he was inspired by the love for his boyfriend to come out to the public. It was a particularly stressful endeavor considering he was currently signed by the league, and nobody knew how the league’s management would react. After the interview, several wrestlers came forward in support of Young. The league also issued a statement supporting their superstar, and Young currently continues to wrestle for the league.
2. Pat Patterson
Yet another member of the WWE Hall of Fame, Patterson was a Canadian born professional wrestler who continues to work with the league as a creative consultant. He first debuted with the National Wrestling Alliance as an effeminate character “Pretty Boy”. He wound up winning the United States Championship six times with the league.
After moving to the WWE, he was managed by another famous figure on our list, Ernie Roth. He was featured in storylines involving Ted DiBiase, as well as champions like Bob Backlund. He was the first Intercontinental Champion in professional wrestling history. Patterson first came out as openly gay in the 1970s. It was a different era back then in many ways, and the acceptance of his sexuality was not openly admitted by the league in any form whatsoever until about 2014.
1. Matt Cage
Matt Cage debuted in 2009 and has been making the rounds throughout several independent league circuits. He is widely known as an indie wrestler at this stage in his career, though his popularity just took a huge surge due to a very recent coming out statement.
By recent, we mean as recent as it possibly can be. Following the legalization of gay marriage throughout the United States, Cage put forth a public statement in which he opened up to being gay via various social media outlets. The heartfelt statement has been circulating over the internet and is very quickly becoming a viral sensation. Cage states that the statement has relieved a tremendous amount of stress as well as the burden of depression off of his shoulders.