After years of struggling for equal rights, acceptance, and to be recognized for their lifestyles, the LGBT community in America rejoiced when legislators declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide in 2015.
The country has made great strides with increasing awareness on the subject of homosexuality and transgender issues through PSAs and through advocacy groups educating the public. The movement by the LGBTQ community was centered on the desire not to be shunned for their differences but to be accepted as part of the fabric of society.
As a result of the growing public and societal acceptance of diverse lifestyles, more and more athletes and celebrities are feeling safe enough to come out and embrace their orientation proudly. The erroneous stereotypes of being gay meaning you’re weak or strange are being shattered every day and that is especially the case in the wrestling world.
The WWE has had a rich and diverse group of Superstars over the years from different ethnicities, backgrounds, and creeds, so it should come as no surprise that some of those stars identify as LGBTQ. While some of the Superstars on this list have not out and out stated their orientation, various evidences indicate that they may very well be part of the LGBTQ landscape.
Paige was raised in a wrestling family and even had her first match at 13 tagging with her mother no less, so you could literally say that wrestling is in her blood.
Nicknamed the “Diva of Tomorrow,” Paige is already one of the most recognizable female WWE Superstars currently on the roster. After earning the adoration of the rabid Full Sail University fan base during her stint in NXT, she made a huge impact on her first night on the main WWE Roster by capturing the Divas Championship from AJ Lee and helping to usher in the Divas Revolution.
The flamboyant Sonny Kiss is a new face to the wrestling scene but in his short career he has made quite an impact with his in-ring persona by embracing his real life sexuality and implementing it into his character. Sonny Kiss, whose nickname is the “Concrete Rose” has wrestled in independent promotions like Tier 1 Wrestling, Warriors of Wrestling and EVOLVE.
In 2015 a video went viral on the internet of a match between Sonny Kiss and former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Ethan Carter III where they took part in an impromptu “twerk off” that ended with Sonny kissing Ethan Carter on the lips. Though Sonny’s persona is an amplified character, he is actually very much an openly gay man as he proudly proclaims on his Twitter page.
Matt Cage is an independent wrestler known for his work in various independent promotions in the USA such as IWA Mid-South, Dragon Gate USA, Chikara and many others. Possibly motivated by the coming out of Darren Young, Matt Cage revealed in 2015 that he was gay after years of hiding his sexual orientation and battling depression.
In a revealing and heartfelt Facebook post titled “Here Goes Nothing,” Cage detailed how he kept the information from going public for so long because he feared rejection.
He further stated “for the longest time, I claimed that I was bisexual. 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. I still find beautiful women beautiful. I don't think that'll ever change. But I think that to continue to claim something that's not true is just continuing a streak dishonesty and I don't want that. Sorry, ladies. I'm officially pulling myself off of the market. Don't hate me too bad."
12 Mae Young
“OHHHH BABY!” You know when you heard that tune during The Attitude Era that something wild was about to go down with Mae Young and Moolah. Whether she was crashing a bikini contest that no one was pining for her to be in or whether she was shacking up with “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry, Mae Young was definitely a senior citizen who was young at heart.
The WWE Hall of Famer was part of a comedic duo during The Attitude Era withTthe Fabulous Moolah and they participated in various skits over the years as those crazy old ladies that just wanted to have some fun, which has included Young finding herself in lip locks with both male and female WWE Superstars. Before that, she was always a terrific female wrestler who helped paved the way for women today.
11 The Fabulous Moolah
The Fabulous Moolah is a pioneer in the world of wrestling and a woman that holds quite a few impressive records. She was the longest reigning Women’s Champion ever, holding the World Women’s Championship—which would eventually become the WWE’s Women’s Championship—for an astronomical 28 years before losing it to Wendi Richter at the precursor to WrestleMania, The Brawl to End It All in 1984. She also holds the record for being the oldest woman ever to capture the Women’s Championship after she defeated Ivory in 1999 at the age of 76.
"The Ninth Wonder of the World" will leave a legacy as one of the few women in the wrestling world that could keep up with the big boys in the ring. Joanie “Chyna” Laurer made a name for herself in the WWE during The Attitude Era and proved that women can thrive in the male dominated world of wrestling with both braun and beauty. She was the first woman to compete in the 30 man Royal Rumble, she was the first woman to capture the Intercontinental Championship, and she was the cornerstone of the iconic D-Generation X faction.
9 Ernie Roth
While not a WWE Superstar, Ernie Roth was a manager during the early days of the WWE (then the WWWF or World Wide Wrestling Federation) known as The Grand Wizard of Wrestling. You could say he was Paul Heyman before Paul Heyman was Paul Heyman (Um…yeah I think I got that right). He was also one of the pioneers of the dirt bag manager role who would try to interfere in matches to alter the outcomes for their protégé.
The Grand Wizard served as the cocky mouth piece for some of the dirtiest heel Superstars at the time, notably “Superstar” Billy Graham, Stan Stasiak, Sgt. Slaughter, and “Cowboy” Bob Orton. The Grand Wizard always wore flamboyant and elaborate attire with his trademark being colorful shades, sequinned jackets, gaudy colored turbans, and feathers. Roth left such a mark for his stint as a manager that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.
8 Terry Garvin
This is another one of those cases where they never were a WWE Superstar but worked for WWE for some time. Terry Garvin was openly gay and not ashamed of it (good for you Terry!). Just looking at the wrestling attire he’s wearing in that picture, it should be no surprise. His wrestling career mainly consisted of begin a tag team specialist with his storyline brother Ronny Garvin in the NWA territories.
7 Shelly Martinez
If you blinked in 2006, you may have missed this buxom beauty’s run in the WWE under the ECW banner. Shelly Martinez was signed by WWE in mid-2006 to be a valet for wrestler Kevin Thorn, a failed short-lived character who was previously another failed and short-lived character, Mordecai. Thorn was an odd vampire character and Shelly was his gothic, witch-like manager named Ariel.
6 Daria Berenato
5 Chris Kanyon
The story of Chris Kanyon is a sad one and one that could’ve very well been prevented had the wrestling industry been more accepting of his lifestyle during the height of his career. Kanyon started out in the WCW as enhancement talent and after a few rough and tumble years, began to get noticed by fans, especially during his feud with Diamond Dallas Page.
4 Orlando Jordan
Orlando Jordan’s WWE career began as part of the SmackDown brand in 2003. He showed promise in his short time, most notably becoming a part of JBL’s Cabinet and winning the United States Championship where he feuded with “He who shall not be named.” Jordan had a decent run and it was during this run that it came out that he was bisexual.
3 Rosa Mendes
Rosa Mendes has had quite a lengthy career with the WWE despite not having accomplished much of anything during her eight year (and counting) stint with the company. Starting out as a Diva Search contestant, WWE signed her to a development deal and after two years in developmental, she made her way to the main roster as a super fan of Beth Phoenix. She had a few forgettable runs as a valet for Primo and Epico as well as Fandango before gaining notoriety for her role on Total Divas.
2 Pat Patterson
The WWE’s inaugural Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson had a short career in the WWE—he debuted in 1979 and retired by 1984— and is better known for being Vince McMahon’s right hand man backstage with booking duties and talent relations. He is credited as being the mastermind behind the concept of the Royal Rumble match and has served time in WWE as a commentator for the French announce booth, a referee, and an on-screen “stooge” with Gerald Brisco for Mr. McMahon. Most young fans remember him frequently receiving stunners from Stone Cold Steve Austin during The Attitude Era.
1 Darren Young
The former half of The Prime Time Players is the first wrestler in the WWE to come out as gay while being an active wrestler, when he first announced that he was gay to TMZ.
It was a brave move to make from a man who was holding in this information, unsure of how his colleagues and fans would view it. What followed was an overwhelming outpouring of support from fans and his fellow wrestlers and personalities in the company from top to bottom.
Young started out in NXT and made a name for himself as part of The Nexus group in 2010. He has since been in and out of the WWE rotation but looks to be getting an opportunity of another run while working with Bob Backlund. Here’s hoping that Darren Young finds success and continues to be a shining beacon for athletes who identify as LGBTQ.
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