Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Coming Out as a Wrestler
I've met at least two guys who wrestled for Division I schools who are now out. They both told me that the idea of coming out as a gay wrestler in Division I would have been very dangerous. I think the major reason is that the wrestling community in the US is highly conservative, and very sharply concentrated on the masculine aspects of college wrestling. They like to point out that wrestlers do not just hang around the university for a year or two and then get drafted into the pros. Wrestling is a pure sport--or so the trope goes--not like football or basketball.
But, I still think that gay men who like to wrestle face a double "coming out." Not only are we faced with the prospect of coming out as gay to our families and friends, but also, we are faced with the prospect of coming out as a wrestler to our lovers. That second step is more difficult than you might imagine.
Way back in the eighties, I was very open about my sexuality. I dated quite a few different guys. And, always at some point it came down to me confessing to them that I liked to wrestle. Only one of those guys was open to it, and that was because he was crazy in love with me. Unfortunately, I was not crazy in love with him. Life is often like that. Sorta cruel.
Much more often, my boyfriends actually recoiled from me when I said that I liked to wrestle. One guy that I was dating just pretended like I hadn't said anything. That kinda pissed me off. So I pressed him on it. Finally, with a sigh of exasperation, he said, "So what the fuck am I supposed to do about it?"
Nothing. The answer was nothing.
It would take about fifteen years and the invention by Al Gore of the Internet to finally show me that I was not the only guy out there who wanted to wrestle.
Since I have "come out" as a wrestler, I've been extraordinarily lucky in that I've been able to wrestle a lot of cool guys. This might make me sound like a bit of a slut, but I think I've wrestled around seventy guys over the last ten years. The vast majority of them have been masculine, tough, really nice guys. The sort of guys that I've always been attracted to. It's been great.
True, I'm sort of bound to a rock in that I've got a home life that is constricting. I can't talk on the phone or chat or cam as often as I sometimes would like. I can't just drop everything and fly to Toronto or California to wrestle (like I'd like to). Money is part of it, but too I have obligations. You don't get to be my age and not have them. Or, you shouldn't.
Anyway, coming out is tough. But coming out as a wrestler is also tough.
But, here's my take on it. Now is the time to redefine yourself. Be a jock. Be a stud. Wear that singlet. Put on those trunks. Wanna wear a mask? Do it. Do it NOW. You only live once, my friend. Better make the best of it while you can.