I’ve done my share of articles on my identity, pro wrestling, and what representation in wrestling means to me when it comes to my identity. I generally wasn’t going to touch on it again, but then a combination of things happened.
First, Pride Month came upon as, as it does every year, and I felt a massive feeling of euphoria about myself. Considering how often I struggle with dysphoria to have this euphoric feeling wave upon myself, the mental reality that I am being the person who I always wanted to be washed over me and it felt refreshing, cleansing, uplifting.
Second, A grumpy old man took a look at me one day wearing a cute pair of jean shorts, pentagram-themed tights, and a shirt declaring “I’m Trans, Get Over It ” and decided to fold his arms and shake his head disapprovingly at me. He just shook his head with this grumpiest of disapproving looks you can muster up and I responded in the only way I could think of. I laughed in his goddamn face. I laughed right in his face. I felt like Glenda telling The Wicked Witch Of The West “You have no power here.” Here I was cute as hell (I don’t mean to brag) and living my best life and you are going to disapprove of me with a shake and sneer? Die mad. It felt good, but as minor an incident as it was it reminded me of a reality.
There are many out there still pushing back, pushing against LGBTQIA+ issues. They are in our courts, our law enforcement, our political institutions. There are those who vocalize support but twiddle their thumb when actual meaningful action is needed. Because as many straight people have realized, it is easy work telling us “Yeah I got your back” than actually committing to the fact of doing so. Many believe in doing the bare minimum and decided “That’s good enough, your welcome” and declaring themselves as allies and supporters. Performative and in the end detrimental.
So I can’t stop talking about these issues, especially in pro wrestling. Silence is violence, apathy is death. And you will still find these people holding position, power, and posts in pro wrestling. I am LGBTQIA+, and it’s exhausting to continue to fight for my rights, needs, freedoms, protections. There are days I feel sleep-deprived. I do it though, and in these words, I just want to say to all promoters, allies, fans, media… it’s still not enough.
I’m not accusing or pressing down on anyone in particular. It is simple to get on commentary, Twitter, your promotion’s website and pound your chest and say “I’M AN ALLY.”
First of all, the harder you try to convince me you’re an ally, the more I’m inclined not to believe you.
Are you promoting LGBTQIA+ wrestlers?
Are you uplifting/giving a platform to their stories?
Are you promoting them significantly and consistently?
Or are you just putting them on the card so you can put up a neon sign that flashes on and off pointing at them so you can go “SEE, I BOOK THE GAYS!” Some of you know you do this.
Do you highlight gay creators in the wrestling community?
Do you give them equal opportunity when it comes to promoting artwork, graphics, and ringside photography?
Do you credit their work when/if shared?
If commentating do your research so you know to use the correct pronouns, and if you slip apologize and correct yourself? As journalists and owners of news sites, do you give platforms and voice to LGBTAIQ+ voices?
Do you present them the ability to put out their thoughts, concerns, ideas to greater audiences?
Wrestling has been doing better lately, but a lot of that good work has become LGBTQIA+ performers who keep pushing, keep driving, keep shouting louder and louder until their voices become scratchy and hoarse. They aren’t asking to be handed anything, they are simply asking for the same opportunities and equal chances to achieve the gains those outside of the community often achieve. There are 12 months in the year, if in June you focus and highlight LGBTQIA+ talent and cover your company in Pride Colors, but the other 11 months of the year you shrug and say “Hey, I did my part,” the truth is you didn’t do shit.
As wrestlers, commentators, promoters, fans, do you push back against transparent, blatant, and outright hate?
Do you call out and impose penalties/punishments for spoken/written prejudice whether it be taunts, slurs, or misgendering?
Do you shut that shit down, or do you go by the “they pay so they can say what they want rule?”
Do you hear it in your locker rooms?
Do you hear it in the offline comments by commentators?
Do you hear it used as promo material? Do you shut that down? Do you reprimand it?
Do you let the targets fight for themselves and carry the burden alone?
There’s been strides and improvements. It makes me so happy and warm seeing how the wrestling landscape has improved and overall has become more open and welcoming. Seeing my favorite LGBTQIA+ wrestlers flourish is wonderful. I love seeing them appear in every aspect, wrestlers, commentators, promoters, fans, journalists. I love seeing fans go to shows and feel comfortable and safe being who they are and not having to hide and shield themselves. Oh god, I want to meet and get to know so many of them! I can go to a wrestling show as who I am, not cover shit up, and feel welcomed and accepted? THAT RULES! There is so much positive out there. I am so glad for it. I am not discounting it. I’m here for it, I live for it, I love it. To all who are fighting the fight, putting in the work, helping pave the way, opening doors and shining lights… THANK YOU!
Keep going though. The work is never done, the work is always getting started.
LGBTQIA+ individuals are doing a wonderful job and kicking ass in every department. Booking their own shows, controlling their own damn narrative, making gains, breaking ground, and making no apologies for being who they are, who we are. But our allies need to continue doing their part, putting in their efforts. There will always be pushed back, critics, naysayers, hate-filled small-minded folk who want to set the clock back as far as they can. They don’t want progress, change, or inclusion. They want shit to continue to be as closed up, exclusive and don’t want to see change or improvements. They see LGBTQIA+ increased involvement and representation as a negative, something to be fought against.
No, no, no, no, no, no, WRONG! Never make accommodations for them. You give them equal ground; they’ll knock you off your feet. You give them the podium they’ll never shut the hell up. Knock that crap down, and tell them to sit down, shut up, or get the hell out fast and without hesitation. Don’t wait for us to do it ourselves, and trust me many of us will, and then slap us on the back and tell us “how brave we are.” I don’t want to be brave, I want to be safe and secure. Don’t do the bare minimum and expect maximum praise. Hell, don’t expect praise at all. Anyone who does anything for this community and expects rewards in return aren’t allies, they are mercenaries.
Wrestling is a wide, wonderful, chaotic and imperfect world. There are a lot of problems and issues in it. I don’t know if they’ll ever be solved. That’s not an excuse to try, to constantly do better and be better (as I am known to say.)
To my fellow LGBTQIA+ out there, I speak to you directly now.
Whether you are a wrestler, promoter, journalist, writer, fan, referee, everything I can name over and over again, I am proud of you. I am proud of you and am inspired by you. You are making names for yourselves and carving your own paths. I am in awe of your strength and passion. I love you, and I thank you. I hope things continue to improve, be better, and that this industry is shaped by our efforts and work.
Happy Pride Month, but a fair warning to all who want to be our obstacles in this industry. You push back against us, you fight against us, you try to stamp us out and kick us to the curb, Pride will become Wrath really damn quick. I’ll march right over your ass, and I’ll look hot as hell doing it.