These LGBTQA Professional Wrestlers and Mixed Martial Artists Are Making History

While the world may seem to be collectively opening its mind more and more these days, it can still be a struggle for those in the LGBTQA community to find their place within wrestling organizations. That being said, the industry has responded to the changing world and is finally beginning to embrace its queer members. In fact, the WWE signed their first openly gay wrestler in 2019.
 
While it may be long overdue, these organizations are slowly catching up. For now, however, these pro fighters are just happy that they can be themselves, both in and out of the ring.

Darren Young

Darren Young (Fred Rosser) first hit the WWE scene in 2005, during which he made several appearances on various programs like Raw and SmackDown. But it wasn’t until five years later that he would reveal his true self to the world. And, he didn’t just come out, he did in a fabulous, very public fashion.

 

In 2013, just a few days before he was set to appear in SummerSlam, he came out as gay during a TMZ interview, making him the first in the organization to do so.

Paige

Paige, AKA Saraya-Jade Bevis, recently reported that she identifies as bisexual. The “Diva of Tomorrow,” as she’s been nicknamed, notably kissed fellow diva Rosa Mendes, though she’s also been seen coupled up with Alberto Del Rio. She would likely say, she “swings both ways.”

Getty Images Photo by Marc Pfitzenreuter

Paige was forced to retire in 2018 after suffering a neck injury, though she has recently come back around to represent the league as an ambassador. If she has it her way, however, she’ll be back in the rain someday soon.

Mike Parrow

Parrow made the headlines in 2017 when he revealed to the world his true sexuality. Now, he’s proud to be a gay athlete and feels he’s operating as the best version of himself. In March of this year, the wrestler married his longtime partner, Morgan Cole.

 

The ceremony happened in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, though he wasn’t about to let anything stop the wedding he’d been putting off for so long.

Nyla Rose

Nyla Rose was the first openly transgendered wrestler to sign with a major American professional wrestling organization, when she came on board with All Elite Wrestling in 2019. Before signing the contract, Rose was working as an actress, starring as the lead in The Switch, a 2016 Canadian series.

 

Despite current circumstances, she remains very active in the promotion. She just made the announcement that she signed on to work with a new manager as well: Vickie Guererro.

Sonya Deville

Sonya Deville, AKA Daria Rae Berenato, made a name for herself in the WWE in 2015, when she impressed on Tough Enough. The wrestler lives in Orlando and is the first openly gay woman in the organization.

 

She has come to become known in the league as “Daddy Deville,” in hopes to combat the misogynistic meaning of the term in many circles. She also launched her own clothing line recently called Rainbow Love through Heavy Heart, which centers around love, kindness, and acceptance. She is hopeful there will be a full-on lesbian storyline in the WWE soon!

Jake Atlas

Jake Atlas, known to friends and family as Kenny Marquez, says that even though he’s gay, he doesn’t want to be known as “the gay wrestler.” Entries and interviews with people, he said it’s because he wants people to watch him because he’s talented, not just because of his sexuality.

 

Atlas was the first openly gay man to sign on with the WWE just earlier this year. And, just a few months later, he became the first openly gay Southern California Rookie of the Year. Way to make history on repeat!

Rosa Mendes

WWE Diva Rosa Mendes was on the opposite end of the famed kiss with Paige. And, lots of time no one was sure if it was just a publicity stunt or what was going on, it turns out that Mendes is attracted to both men and women. She revealed her bisexuality in 2014.

 

Soon after, she announced her engagement and expected pregnancy with musician and clothing company owner, Bobby Schubenski. The couple gave birth to their daughter in 2018. Mendez is now going by Milena Roucka, and she has over 940,000 followers on Instagram, where she’s posted, “I love being a mom.”

Charlie Morgan

Charlie Morgan, born Yasmin Josephine Lander, recently surprised fans when she announced her retirement last year. After suffering an injury, everyone expected her to return to the ring. Unfortunately, the break to her ankle was, “far worse than she ever could have imagined.” But a couple of years before, she surprised a different crowd during a promo show, when she came out as a lesbian in the ring.

 

The crowd’s reaction? A whole lot of cheering. In 2019 during Wrestle Queen II, Morgan announced her retirement. She was just 27 years old at the time.

Cassandro

American born Cassandro works as a professional wrestler in Mexico and travels the world doing promo shows. He has been wrestling professionally since 1989 and operates as an Exótico, which are gay male wrestlers dressed in drag.

Getty Images Photo by James Lemke Jr/WireImage

Most Exóticos are straight, or at least, a lot of them are, though Cassandro is openly gay. The New Yorker published an article about him in 2016, and in 2018, he was the subject of his own documentary film. He has also appeared on Conan and is a huge star in Mexico.

Lola Starr

Wrestler Lola Starr first popped up on the scene in 2018. The transgender woman made the decision to come out to her adoring fans – nearly 45,000 of which follow her on Instagram – and further added to the growing list of openly transgender professional wrestlers.

 

It can’t be easy to do that in a world that’s still trying to open its mind, but each and every person who does is making a leap, for themselves and for others in similar situations. She stood up to fellow wrestler Brooke Adams on social media after Adams made some transphobic comments.

Shayna Baszler

Shayna Baszler rose to fame in the world of professional fighting after making an impression during her first MMA match back in 2006. She is multitalented and is both a Khun Kru in Muay Thai, and a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. She recently came out as LGBTQA and is still very much active in the WWE.

Getty Images Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

She has still been performing on Raw, despite the recent rumors of her being out due to an injury. She has been off for a couple of weeks during the pandemic, though there are again rumors swirling about Vince McMahon “not understanding her wrestling style.”

Diamante

Diamante, also known as Angel Rose on the independent circuit, was born Priscilla Zuniga, first arrived on the wrestling scene in 2008. In July of last year, Diamante revealed her orientation and announced her relationship with Kiera Hogan.

 

Hogan is a former roster-mate of Diamante, with the two women working together on Impact. In 2017, Diamante suffered an injury and was out of the ring for a while, though she came back in 2019, and now works with All Elite Wrestling, and is still coupled up with Hogan.

Kiera Hogan

Hogan is out, loud and proud, though things weren’t always that easy for her, as she’s described her experiences of being bullied for her sexuality growing up. Over the past several years, she’s given a number of inspiring interviews about being a member of the LGBTQA community.

 

She and girlfriend/co-star Diamante performed together as a tag team duo on Women of Wrestling, Fire, and Adrenaline. She has nearly 50,000 followers on her Instagram account, where she reveals that she currently lives in Atlanta, and thinks of herself as, “The Hottest Flame,” and also LGBTQA, duh!

Mercedes Martinez

WWE doesn’t have a very long history of working with openly gay athletes. In fact, the very first openly gay wrestler to sign with the organization, Jake atlas, only did so in 2019, the same year that Mercedes Martinez decided to tell the world that she herself was gay.

 

She has had quite an extensive and impressive career in professional wrestling, starting in 2000, and still performing with the WWE today. She is reportedly married and has one son.

Dave Marshall

Openly gay Australian wrestler and personal trainer Dave Marshall made headlines in 2018 when he and his then-boyfriend decided to start making adult content to combat suicides due to homophobia. And they weren’t just posting the content, they were donating all of the proceeds from it to Beyond Blue, a charity that works to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.

 

His interest in the charity sparked from losing his own father to suicide and wanting to make a real difference the community. He and his boyfriend broke up, they raised over 5000 AUD for the charity.

Piper Niven

Scottish wrestler Piper Niven, originally Kimberly Benson, (also known as Viper) made her debut in the industry in 2009 in the Scottish Wrestling Alliance. She made her NXT UK debut in 2019, right around the same time that she decided to come out to the world as bisexual.

 

In fact, she did so on September 23: Bisexuality Day. Hooray! She got engaged to her boyfriend not long after making the announcement. Viper has won several awards in wrestling, including two ICW Women’s Championships.

Kris Wolf

Former wrestler, photographer, and TV personality, Kris Wolf, may be retired, but she made quite an impact on the industry before bowing out. She wrestled professionally first in Japan, and then expanded her professional horizons and won a number of awards, including a World Wonder Ring Stardom championship.

 

She was also ranked Number 28 of the 100 best female wrestlers in PWI’s Female 100 in 2018. Wolf has been openly gay for years and is now married to her longtime partner whom she lives with in Norway.

Orlando Jordan

It’s not much of a secret to most people that the world of professional wrestling is all staged. The storylines that wrestlers play out on stage are scripted, and everyone is made up to portray their own fictional character.

 

But, like with any acting job, LGBTQA wrestlers follow their script and do their jobs like everyone else – though it can’t be an easy feat! For Orlando Jordan, who is openly out as a bisexual, things weren’t any different. He never quite fell into the routine and got used to the act, so he decided to open up his own wrestling schools instead.

Sonny Kiss

Professional wrestler and dancer, Sonny Kiss, currently works with All Elite Wrestling. Kiss has been out as gay and has dealt with his fair share of discrimination, even as recently as earlier this year, when Jim Cornette made some disturbing homophobic comments about him on social media.

 

Thankfully the LGBTQA community immediately bit back, shaming Cornette for the comments. As for Kiss, he is still very much active with AEW, taking to the ring in an impressive match just earlier this month at the organization’s Fight for the Fallen.

Jack Sexsmith

Jack Sexsmith is the first pro wrestler on our list to represent the pansexual community. Pansexuals are those who can find themselves attracted to anyone, regardless of their gender or sexuality. He put it best in his own words when he said, “I’m not gay. I’m not straight. I’m not even bi,” comparing himself to, “the Deadpool of the wrestling world.”

 

Unfortunately, he was forced into retirement in 2019 after tearing several ligaments in his knee, which had already once been reconstructed.

Matt Cage

Matt Cage maybe retired, but he’s represented the LGBTQA community in some amazing ways, even after stepping out of the ring. He has described himself on social media as, “very gay and unapologetic.” In 2018, he posted adorable pictures of a double date between him, his boyfriend, and his father and his boyfriend.

 

The internet went into a frenzy, with mixed emotions and comments on the matter. In the end, the post received about 11,000 likes and 3,000 retweets. The wrestler had come out publicly three years before in a post on his Facebook page.

DJ Summers

DJ Summers isn’t a name you’ve heard around the WWE (yet,) but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made a name for himself in the world of professional wrestling. The openly gay indie wrestler is signed by a brand known as Celestial Bodiez, which is actually owned by the ex-WWE star, Kaitlyn.

 

There is currently a Go Get Funding page up which is trying to raise money to complete a documentary called Out in The Ring, about a number of openly LGBTQA wrestlers including Summers himself. So far, the film is only funded at 6%, so if it does come into fruition, it may be a while.

Anthony Bowens

Anthony Bowens is another indie wrestler who represents the LGBTQA community. He first came out in an interview with People TV in 2017 as bisexual, although he has since come out as gay. He first entered the world of professional wrestling in 2013, and is still active with WrestlePro, where he has been a three-time champion.

 

He now acts as a role model for other young gay men who aspire to be involved in the world of wrestling. And, he also acts as a model, period, posing for different types of fitness companies, etc. He has over 72,000 followers on Instagram.

Jim Sterling

In Sterling isn’t exactly are typical WWE wrestler. In fact, he isn’t a part of the WWE at all. He’s more of an indie wrestler – a very, very indie wrestler. You see, Sterling found his little slice of fame on YouTube. He’s also openly pansexual, and has a few different shows on the platform, including “The Jimquisition,” and, “Jimpressions,” among several others.

 

In 2017, he was hit with copyright infringement for using a couple of seconds of one of their productions. His response? Throwing on some spandex and jumping into impressions of Stardust, or in this case, “Sterdust.”

 Candy Lee

Candy Lee, AKA Leilani Tominiko, is a pretty big deal in New Zealand. She’s the country’s first transgender professional wrestler. Apparently, her version of Candy Crush is something that would really hurt. She started hormone therapy for her transition when she was just 16 years old – while she was still attending an all-boys Catholic school.

 

Talk about some seriously brave moves! Her first professional match was in 2016, and she’s been going strong ever since. Her online Instagram persona is Lei Barbie, and she has a pretty supportive community of fans and followers.

Jordan Blade

One look at wrestler Jordan Blade’s current Instagram profile, and you’ll see that she’s an out-and-proud bisexual, which is accented with a rainbow emoji. She has been one of the first female wrestlers that’s gotten paired up to fight men in the ring – something we will likely be seeing a lot more of.

 

Although, it’s not as recent as you actually may think. There was a woman in the 1930s that made her living out of wrestling men. As the times continue to change, perhaps the storylines will take on a new form.

Eddy McQueen

Eddy McQueen is another pro wrestler who’s been one of the only ones to participate in intergender wrestling – and he loves it. One of the most recent posts on his social media reads, “I have intergender gender wrestling thank for some of my favorite career moments so far.”

 

The fabulously LGBTQA athlete is also super-skilled when it comes to makeup – and lashes. He is a professional eyelash artist and aesthetician, in addition to being fearless in the ring. He’s also coined the term, “fear the beard,” which he frequently uses on social media.

Cassius The Neon Explosion

Cassius The Neon Explosion excitedly just announced the launch of this first merchandise line – yesterday, actually, called Cassius Is on The Gear. The openly gay wrestler is a rising star in the LGBTQA professional wrestling community, it is aptly named, considering his bright choice of wardrobe which usually includes a rainbow.

 

His clothing line is no different, with him choosing to release bright pink and yellow shirts among others.

Tommy Purr

Tommy Purr was born into a world of glamour and entertainment as the son of a Playboy model and an Asian rock star. Her is no stranger to the world of intergender wrestling, performing under such characters as the “sassy gay referee,” and joining in the first Boxer-Briefs Vs. Bra & Panties Match.

 

Tommy has also been a part of the first Freakshow Divas Championship. He is out and proud and can often be caught wearing purple sparkly spandex. Aside from being a professional wrestler, Purr, AKA Watanabe, identifies as a creator and cartoonist, along with a reviewer of toys.

Solo Dyne Darling

Solo Dyne Darling, AKA the “limb reaper,” has built up quite a name for herself in the world of professional wrestling. She has a fan base on Instagram of nearly 18,000 people, many of which probably love that she, well, she loves everyone. Okay, maybe not, but as a pansexual, she is capable of doing just that.

 

In fact, she’s said before that she fights for love, opening the world’s mind about what that means to different people. With more and more pansexuals and all different types of sexualities being welcomed in the league, it will make it easier for LGBTQA newcomers.

Rick Cataldo

Rick Cataldo is a gay drag queen and pro wrestler, as well as being a wrestling manager. He operates under the ring name The Boy Diva – the same name that he chooses to use on social media. He, like many other queer wrestlers, take issue with straight athletes “playing” gay,” and feels it often comes off mocking.

 

The Boy Diva is a self-professed visionary, though he’s definitely helping to (fabulously) kick open some major doors for others who may be following in his footsteps – which likely leave behind stiletto stamps.

Devon Monroe

Minneapolis-born Devin Monroe is fairly new to the world of professional wrestling. He graduated from The Academy: School of Professional Wrestling, making him the 17th person in history to do so. He has over 2000 followers on his Instagram, where he often posts event photos of himself posing in his rainbow-colored short shorts.

 

He promotes his line of merchandise that he sells on prowrestlingtees.com, on one of which reads, “Devon Monroe: Too Hot to Handle.”

Still Life With Apricots And Pears

This may not seem like your average wrestling name, it’s the one that this non-binary professional chose before first entering the ring in 2017. The athlete first made a name for themselves in CHIKARA, an indie wrestling group that was born in Pennsylvania.

 

If you aren’t familiar with what it means to be non-binary, it means they do not identify as either a man, or a woman, hence why they prefer to be dubbed “them,” and “they,” rather than “him,” “her,” or, “he,” or, “she.” Still Life with Apricots and Pears says they’re a living work of art. They’re the first non-binary wrestling champion in existence.

Dark Sheik

The Dark Sheik, AKA Sam Khandaghabadi, is the founder of Hoodslam, an underground professional wrestling event that goes down in Oakland, CA. The openly trans female wrestler started the event after continuously being forced to dull down her act to, “make it appropriate for children.”

 

According to the founder herself, Hoodslam is more like performance art than traditional wrestling. The event has been occurring since 2013, it has included a number of WWE and ECW wrestlers, including Brian Kendrick and Paul London.

Russell Rogue

A glance at Russell Rogue’s Instagram will tell you that he is a few things, among several others: unapologetically black, and unapologetically queer. He recently combined those two things into a shirt that he sells which says, “Pro Black, Pro Queer, Pro Wrestling.” Rogue first got to start in professional wrestling in 2017, is also sometimes known by his alter ego, Dewey Decimal.

 

He is very active in the LGBTQ professional wrestling community on social media, where he shares and supports his fellow queer wrestler’s positive happenings, as well as his opinions on the things he feels the industry still needs to change.

Jamie Senegal

Jamie Senegal, AKA the Punk Rock Kween, is a non-binary professional wrestler and advocate for the LGBTQA community. They got their start in the professional wrestling community in 2015 as a part of the Atomic Championship match in Pennsylvania.

 

Some of their signature moves include The Beauty Killer Now, which is a spinning wheel kick. There are over 7000 people following the public figure on Instagram.

Orlando Cruz

Orlando Cruz is a professional Puerto Rican boxer, the first openly gay boxer, to be exact. He came out in 2012, telling the world he is a “proud gay man.” He dedicated a 2016 match to the victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy, where he donned rainbow shorts.

Getty Images Photo by Alex Menendez

Cruise has been very open in discussing his experiences of growing up gay, and coming out, both to his family and the world. In the summer of 2018, he was honored at the Chicago Pride Parade as Grand Marshall.

Effy

Effy Gibbes is the first openly sober LGBTQ representative on the list so far. Effy brings a bit of punk rock mixed with fabulousness to the ring – typically while wearing a pair of fishnets and something in bright pink. “I’m coming out in this glitzy outfit- I’ve got this glamorous studded jacket; I’ve got fishnets on. I’m acting a little feminine. But my straight-up style in the ring is submission based and brawling,”

 

Effy said in a recent interview with into more. He’s been extremely entertaining and badass in the ring, with his secret weapon being all of the trash-talk before a beat down.

Nina Ansaroff

Nina Ansaroff is an American UFC fighter, who is currently ranked #5 in the UFC women’s strawweight rankings. The Florida native started training in MMA in 2009 and made her professional debut the next year.

Getty Images Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

She is openly gay and is in fact engaged to Amanda Nunes, her fellow UFC teammate. Last year, Nunes announced that both women are entirely open to fighting one another in the ring. In fact, they’re already planning it out, though it won’t happen until they both score a belt and go toe-to-toe in a Super fight at 125.

Liz Carmouche

Lil Carmouche was one half of a match that made UFC history, as being the first in the league’s history to be fought by two openly gay competitors. She’s actually made history a few times during her professional career, including the tine she went toe-to-toe with Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight championship.

Getty Images Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

When she was a part of the UFC, she was last ranked as #4 in the flyweight rankings. The USMC veteran was cut from the organization in 2019 when she was actually in the midst of making an appearance during fight week.

Sharice Davids

Sharice Davids is an attorney and politician Who is currently serving in the House of Representatives for Kansas. But before she got into politics, she worked as an MMA fighter and even tried out for The Ultimate Fighter. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it, but perhaps that’s because she had other things to do!

 

Davids is now the first openly gay person elected to the US Congress from the state of Kansas, as well as the first LGBTQA Native American in Congress.

Tonya Evinger

Tonya Evinger’s professional fighting career began in 2006 when she arrived on the MMA scene. She has a record of 19 wins to 8 losses, 8 wins occurring from knockouts alone, and 7 via submission.

Getty Images Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

The openly LGBTQA fighter has won a number of awards, including an Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship. She has quite a following on social media too, with over 13,000 people on her Instagram page alone, where she posts quite a few pictures of her and her partner, model Bella Burke.

Fallon Fox

Fallon Fox didn’t exactly come out on her own terms within the MMA industry. In 2013, She had already been fighting professionally for six years as a woman, when she got a phone call from a reporter who let her know the secret was out.

 

So, she was basically forced to come out, after which time she faced a bunch of scrutiny for fighting as a woman (even though that’s who she had been for years.) She ended up making history for being the first openly transgender woman in the history of the MMA.

Raquel Pennington

Racquel Pennington is an American MMA fighter that’s previously fought for Invicta, and now fights in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The openly gay athlete started as a professional fighter in 2009, quickly building up a solid record of 7 wins (5 by submission) to just 1 loss.

Getty Images Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa

She and fellow UFC fighter, Tecia Torres, in the strawweight division, are engaged to be married.

Shad Smith

Shad Smith made history as the first openly gay MMA fighter, and has now earned himself the nickname, “The American Badass.” But what gives? Well, it could have something to do with his spotty legal past, as Smith is a convicted felon.

Getty Images Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

Smith rose to fame in the underground world of fighting, courtesy of Felony Fights, which gives ex-offenders a chance to compete in the ring. The thing about Felony Fights? It’s not sanctioned by the state and it has no rules. Hence the nickname.

Jessica Aguilar

This Mexican American MMA fighter Competed for the UFC Championship as a Strawweight. Her professional career started in 2006 with Absolute Fighting, and in 2013, she was the first female to sign with World Series of Fighting.

Getty Images Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

She also went on to become the promotion’s first female champion. Aguilar has been openly living as a lesbian for quite some time now and lives with her longtime girlfriend that she’s been with since 2012.

Jessica Andrade

This Brazilian MMA pro was one of the first women to fight in the UFC’s very first match between two openly gay competitors, opposite Liz Carmouche. She is married to her wife, Fernanda Gomez, with whom she shares a traumatic experience. The two were robbed for their car and cell phones at gunpoint not too long ago.

Getty Images Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

The two got engaged in 2017, and they now live together in Rio de Janeiro

Livia Renata Souza

Livia Renata Souza first stepped onto the MMA scene in March of 2013. She quickly built up a reputation of being simply unbeatable, thanks to her impressive record of 9 wins to 0 losses.

Getty Images Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

Souza, AKA “The Brazilian Gangsta,” has been openly gay and proud for several years now and is one of many strong LGBTQ women who make it easier for others to follow in their footsteps.

Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes is the first openly gay person in history to win a championship belt in the UFC. Nunes is married to strawweight fighter, Nina Ansaroff, who appeared a while back on our list.

Getty Images Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

As of this week, she is rated number one in her division. Although she is now discussing retirement since she and her wife are about to have their first child within a month or so now.

Ediane Gomes

This Brazilian bantamweight fighter Made her debut in the industry in 2007, quickly racking up five consecutive wins. Gomes is openly gay, and she married her longtime girlfriend back in 2014.

 

The athlete goes by the nickname, “India,” and has a nice base of fans that follow her social media pages. She hasn’t been in the ring since 2017, but she won’t be soon forgotten, especially by the LGBTQA fighting community.