Six times where 21st century wrestling embraced the LGBTQ+ community

As part of Pride Month, Sarah Grieve looks at some of the times in which modern day wrestling has embraced inclusiveness towards the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBTQ+

LGBTQ+ people have been neglected in the wrestling world for a long-time. However, since the Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) reunited in NJPW and Finn Balór made his Wrestlemania entrance with a “Bálor Club is for Everyone” theme, there is more space than ever to make “Wrestling is for Everybody” more than just a statement.

“Pro Wrestling is for everyone. Regardless of sexuality, gender, race or age, this wonderful nonsense world of action soap opera contains within it characters that we can all relate to, empathise with, laugh and cry with despite any perceived differences.”

Lewis Girvan

Nobody should be scared to take part in something that is made to socialise. Especially wrestling, a sport that is designed to entertain everybody, without building storylines on the back of minorities.

So here are just some of the examples when wrestlers have taken a 21st-century approach to supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

Finn Balor

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Credit: WWE

Finn has shown himself to be an incredible ally to the LGBTQ+ community.

In February 2018 he released a rainbow version of his Balor Club” logo, stating that “Balor Club is for everyone”. This was seen as quite a big step in LGBTQ+ recognition within wrestling. Part of the proceeds from t-shirt sales going to GLAAD.

Balor continued to openly show his support and message about inclusivity with his entrance in New Orleans at Wrestlemania 34. This entrance included members of the LGBTQ+ community, showing that no matter your sexual orientation, or who you identify as, wrestling is for everybody.

Sonya Deville

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Credit: WWE

“If I can be the voice for people who might be intimidated by coming out. They see my doing it in front of pretty big people in the WWE world, hopefully it will give them the courage to do it”

Sonya Deville

Daria Berenato, AKA WWE’s Sonya Deville, is the company’s first openly lesbian superstar.

She is also the first openly gay woman to compete at Wrestlemania.

The Jersey Devil came out to the WWE universe while competing on Tough Enough.

Quite like Finn, Sonya wanted to spread the message of inclusion in her ring appearance. She wears rainbow wrestling gear, as well as sporting the LGBTQ+ flag regularly on WWE TV.

Kenny Omega

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Credit: David J. Wilson

There has been debate about Omega’s sexuality in the past. This included him not openly stating his sexuality to people, claiming he alludes to being bisexual very often.

Kenny brought LGBTQ+ recognition to pro wrestling alongside his tag team partner Kota Ibushi. The best bout machine has stated that he is okay with people thinking that him and Kota are a couple outside the ring.

Omega once stated: “If LGBTQ+ people can identify with our story, if they think ‘The Golden Lovers are on my team’, then I’m good with that”.

Charlie Morgan

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Credit: David J. Wilson

Charlie is a huge name on the British independent wrestling scene. The former Pro Wrestling: EVE champion came out as openly gay in an emotional promo at EVE in 2017. Morgan supports rainbow colours in her entrance gear, and is open about her sexuality.

Charlie’s message about recognition of equality and inclusion in wrestling is clear: “It shouldn’t matter what race you are or what your sexual orientation is. It doesn’t change who you are as a person, just be yourself”.

Morgan has also stated that she is just as good a worker as somebody who is straight and questions why people still have issues with LGBTQ+ community members in wrestling.

Kings of Catch (Lewis Girvan & Aspen Faith)

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Credit: Sarah Grieve

Much like Balor, Lewis Girvan and Aspen Faith are allies of the LGBTQ+ community. The pair are very open in wanting to spread the message of inclusion across the wrestling world.

The Kings of Catch have incorporated this into their ring appearance in the past. This included their entrance at Insane Championship Wrestling’s Fear & Loathing and releasing t-shirts with their logo incorporated with a rainbow of colours.

When asked about the motivation to encourage inclusion, Lewis said: “I feel it’s extremely important to promote a message of inclusion and solidarity against any kind of bigotry or hate.

“If I can, I want to be someone that maybe changes a perspective, shows that we’re not all that different and that any two people can find a common ground. Basically, life can get pretty tough. Hard times come up for everyone, so don’t be the reason someone else feels unhappy.”

Jack Sexsmith

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Credit: Lisa Beaney

Jack identifies himself as pansexual. He wrestles in Ugg boots and pink leggings or trunks and regularly campaigning for openness and inclusiveness.

Jack promotes inclusiveness in the Indy-scene with this company “PROUD Apparel’, with a percentage of sales going to the Stonewall charity. Stonewall runs the “Rainbow Laces campaign“ where you can lace your shoes with rainbow coloured shoestrings to show your support to the LGBTQ+ community. UK promotion PROGRESS are very supportive of this project.

Jack’s used his colourful personality to shine through in this wrestling and has become a loved name up and down the country.

Sexsmith never originally intended to use his sexuality as part of his wrestling character. He started off insecure about the wrestling world knowing his sexuality, but over time his confidence grew and realised the potential to do a lot of good with it.

Authors note

It always fills me with joy when I see the LGBTQ+ community represented. It doesn’t matter if it’s in wrestling or everyday life.

I have a lot of friends that identify under the LGBTQ+ banner and firmly believe that nobody should be scared to take part in something that is made to socialise.

It’s great to see wrestling promotions like PROGRESS and All Elite Wrestling acknowledging the LGBTQ+ community/ It show that you shouldn’t be afraid to be up front that the talent they are using maybe do identify as gay/lesbian/transgender/pansexual etc.

If this sort of thing continues to spread positivity and inclusiveness, I’ll continue to feel absolute joy.

Progression is the key to everything, and pro wrestling is for everyone.

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