Professional wrestler Mike Parrow has a clear message for young LGBTQ athletes struggling with being open about their sexuality — support will find you.
Parrow, who himself is openly gay, battled with his own demons for years, even giving conversion therapy a shot.
Despite working in a profession that is still sorting through a foundation of homophobia, Parrow learned to accept himself. He wants others to take the same journey.
He told the Washington Blade:
“Your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability. I thought my teammates wouldn’t accept me and I was wrong. Your team will support you.
I came from the sports world of a football locker room where I was an alpha male. The wrestlers at the academy were not of the same sports background.
I wasn’t prepared for all the different personalities. I knew I was gay, but I didn’t want to be.
I was in a new town and I didn’t want people to know. I was scared.”
Nowadays, Parrow is in a long-term relationship and the couple is set to wed later this year.
But there were some dark days that led up to where he is now.
“I was this weird unicorn because I wasn’t part of the culture. The people I met on dating apps were rude, mean and cruel.
I was called closet case, fat, ugly and was shamed for my masculinity. I was terrified, and it pushed me farther into the closet.
A lot of misconceptions can be talked out, but I wasn’t meeting people who wanted to talk. We make villains when we don’t need to make villains.”
There were two people, though, who always accepted him. Parrow’s parents were key in giving him the room to fully express himself — something that can’t be overstated.
“My parents are proud of me and I have been lucky to have had a great experience with them.
I will never understand a parent not accepting their child. Your child is yours, everything else is borrowed.”
Here are some shots of Parrow and his adorable future-husband, Morgan Cole:
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