That’s why Parrow, who stands at 6’4″ and weighs 293 pounds, is so proud of his role in Out in the Ring, director Ry Levey’s award-winning feature documentary about the history of LGBTQ+ representation in pro wrestling. The film made its official world debut at Toronto’s LGBTQ+ film festival in May 2022, and is set to make its U.S. debut on Fuse and Fuse+ November 15.
The doc’s U.S. premiere falls just one month before Parrow will celebrate his sixth anniversary as a publicly out grappler. He came out in an interview in late December 2017, and his story quickly gained traction around the world.
From the start, one of Parrow’s primary goals was eradicating the stereotypes of LGBTQ+ folx in wrestling. “Everyone I saw who was portraying an LGBT character was either a sassy comical sidekick, weaker than their heterosexual counterparts or overly feminine. I Identified with none of these portrayals, which led me to believe that I was alone in the world and that I was a mistake in some way,” he wrote on Outsports.
The following year, Parrow flaunted his LGBTQ+ identity in a big way. The heavyweight wore a Pride flag into the ring for a championship bout during the National Wrestling Alliance’s (NWA) 70th anniversary show. The NWA is one of the most historic promotions in pro wrestling.
Today, Parrow works for Game Changer Wrestling (GCW), which is regarded as one of the most inclusive promotions around. The company features multiple out LGBTQ+ performers, including Effy and Dark Shiek, a Pakistani trans woman.
While Anthony Bowens enjoys a high profile role in AEW (All Elite Wrestling, there isn’t currently a single out performer in the WWE. Parrow is quick to point out the absurdity.
When Out in the Ring started development five years ago, the WWE vowed it would actively pursue LGBTQ+ wrestlers and storylines.
Parrow, and other LGBTQ+ wrestlers, are still waiting.
Queerty recently caught up with Parrow ahead of the doc’s U.S. premiere, and chatted about whether wrestling is actually getting more inclusive, the joys of married life and his favorite adventures outside of the ring. Here’s what he had to say…
QUEERTY: What do you want viewers to take away from Out in the Ring?
MIKE PARROW: First and foremost, the history. We’ve been part of wrestling from the beginning, whether it was something queer-coded, or that we’ve been fighting from the beginning just to be ourselves. As part of the LGBTQ community, one of the number one things is, there’s no visibility. Being seen, right now with our political climate, the number one thing they don’t want us to do is to talk, is to speak, is to exist. A lot of people are very happy. They’ll make comments like, “I don’t care that you’re gay. I just don’t want to see it. I just don’t want to hear it.” But on the flip side, we have to hear about their lives and their stories. But what about our lives and our stories? The documentary brings forward that light of, “We’ve been here from the beginning, whether you knew it or not.”
You publicly came out in 2017. Do you think wrestling is a more accepting place now than it was then? Or has there been regression?
There’s definitely been some regression. I’ll put it this way: is it more accepting than when I started? Yes, 1,000%. But when we push forward, there’s always a push back. Any time we want rights, or to be accepted as equal, you have a huge part of the people who don’t like change. People don’t like change, and LGBTQ is change. People like things a certain way. When we show them their perception of reality isn’t exactly real, that they have just made up in their heads, they don’t like that.
Right now, we’re in a state in pro wrestling where the major companies — your AEW, your WWE — WWE itself doesn’t have an openly gay man on their roster at all. Prior to this documentary, they said they were gonna actively pursue LGBTQ wrestlers and storylines. The documentary is over five years old. There are none. How long does that take? I wasn’t even out when they made that comment.
You got married in 2020. How’s married life been treating you?
We got married right before the pandemic, three days before the world ended. We got to spend our honeymoon looked up in our house. It was a very bonding experience, but we had already been living together before. We got to know each other. Married life is just like straight married life. You have ups and downs and problems, but I got to marry my soulmate, and I get to travel the world and experience adventures with him.
What are some of your favorite adventures?
Just recently, we went to Japan. I got the opportunity outside of wrestling, because I’ve done well in wrestling, thank goodness, that I was able to bring [my husband] on his dream trip in Japan. We got to spend nine days, I got to show him all the things in Japan that I was able to experience when I was wrestling, and it was awesome to be able to show him part of my life, but not in a wrestling way. Sometimes our trips revolve around wrestling, and he’s not the biggest wrestling fan, if at all. Just having a trip that doesn’t revolve around me working was great. We were able to see everything he’s always wanted to see. I probably watched 1,000 GoPro videos during the pandemic, and I’m like, “Yes, I’ve been there. I’ve seen that.” Now he got to ride the bullet train, he got to see Tokyo, he got to see Osaka. He got to go to his Pokemon cafe, and all those things he’s wanted to see. That was one of our great trips.
Earlier this year, we took a trip to Scotland. It’s amazing, if you like camping or anything like that. It’s super green, super mountainous. It’s great.
What’s your workout routine? It must be pretty all-encompassing…
I’ve always been one of those people where, if I can’t keep up with the younger guys, it’s disrespectful to our art. I’ve always had that thought process in any sport I’ve played. If I can’t keep up with the young guys in the business, then it’s time for me to step away. For me to even keep up with them, every day I do CrossFit, then I take a break and get my meal in, and then I do an hour of cardio. Then I do my regular aesthetic workout, the one that helps me look good. Then every other week, I try to roll around, try to learn some new moves, and I do a lot of studying and stretching to try and keep my older body from breaking down, because I’m not 21 anymore!
The bumps hurt a little more. I get a little sore after matches!
What do you like to do outside of the ring?
I love adventures. I’m one of those people who likes to go to the beach, go hiking, go to the springs. When I was little, our parents didn’t allow us to stay inside. They would say, “We didn’t get all of this land for you to stay inside.” So I have this thing where, I hate being in the house. Then during the pandemic, we were stuck in the house. So anytime I get the chance outside of wrestling, or even inside of wrestling when I go places, I don’t sit in the hotel. I’ll go around and I will check out every town we’re in, because that’s fun. So I would say adventures are the No. 1 thing, and the occasional movie if anything good is out.