Mike Parrow, the 35-year-old 300-pound professional wrestler who came out as gay earlier this year, entered his most recent NWA wrestling match draped in the rainbow pride flag. That’s a pretty big deal for a sport that has long wrestled with its own homophobia.
NWA Wrestling shared a GIF of Parrow’s entrance (below), showing him looking like a bad leather daddy as he walks downstage to face his three other opponents. The LGBTQ sports site Outsports reported that the match was actually a four-way championship bout during a pay-per-view event commemorating NWA Wrestling’s 70th anniversary.
— NWA (@nwa) October 21, 2018
It’s great that Parrow is so open and outspoken about his sexual identity. In the past, he has spoken about his fiancé and his experiences in gay conversion therapy. He has also encouraged other LGBTQ athletes to come out.
Parrow’s entrance reminds us a bit of WWE wrestler Finn Bálor’s entrance at this year’s WrestleMania event. Bálor entered the arena flanked by an applauding entourage of LGBTQ fans all wearing t-shirts with a rainbow-colored version of his logo. Although Bálor doesn’t identify as gay, a portion of his rainbow t-shirts sales benefitted the LGBTQ media watchdog group GLAAD.
While some fans might see these displays as showy and somewhat self-serving, longtime fans of U.S. pro-wrestling know that the sport has a long, problematic history of depicting its gay male wrestlers with any dignity. The sport has often resorted to stereotypically flamboyant sissy characters meant to offend the masculinity of other butch wrestlers.
The worst instance of this occurred in the early 2000s when WWE developed a months-long gay romance between wrestlers Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo. The two regularly wore matching outfits, were affectionate with each other and even had an hunky hairdresser named Vito.
WWE staged a wedding between Gunn and Palumbo in 2002 only to have both characters chicken out before saying, “I do.” Gunn then announced that he wasn’t gay (to the cheers of the audience) and called the entire thing a publicity stunt that went too far. The wedding then devolved into a huge brawl.
It all seemed especially insulting since we gay-baited LGBTQ wrestling fans couldn’t even legally marry at the time.So it’s nice to see that pro-wrestling has dropped all the homophobic pretense and just started letting gay wrestlers and their allies be themselves.
Scroll down for pics from Parrow’s Instagram account:
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