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8 LGBTI wrestlers smashing stereotypes and changing the wrestling game

8 LGBTI wrestlers smashing stereotypes and changing the wrestling game

LGBTI wrestlers from left to right – Dave Marshall (@davemarshall89), Sonya Deville (@sonyadevillewwe), Darren Young (@realfredrosser) and Nyla Rose (@nylarosebeast)

Like most competitive sports, seeing openly LGBTI wrestlers can be a rare occurrence.

But that’s all slowly changing.

There are a handful of LGBTI wrestlers making waves in the wrestling game, smashing stereotypes and living their lives out and proud.

These eight LGBTI wrestlers are showing the world how it’s done:

1. Sonya Deville

Sonya Deville (real name Daria Rae Berenato) is an American professional wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) SmackDown brand, although she started out in Raw.

The 25-year-old wrestler made her professional wrestling debut in December 2015 in WWE’s developmental brand NXT.

In 2017, she formed a trio with wrestlers Mandy Rose and Paige, known as Absolution.

Although Paige retired from wrestling in April 2018, Deville still wrestles alongside Mandy Rose. She’s also competed in big wrestling events, like Royal Rumble and Survivor Series.


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Deville came out as a lesbian on national television four years ago during a televised Tough Enough competition.

‘Mandy and I were both on the show,’ she recalled to Sky Sports. ‘During the preliminary taping of the first premiere episode, they asked me if I was in a relationship.

‘I had a girlfriend at the time,’ she said.

Deville then explained: ‘I thought “What do I do… well, tell the truth, right?” So I said, “Yeah, I have a girlfriend, but she’s not my wife yet”.

‘I got nervous, and they all started smiling.

‘I said “Oh my god, I just came out on national television”. And Triple H replied “Yeah you did!”

On why coming out is important, she said: ‘If you’re scared to do it, my advice would be do it, because it was the best thing that ever happened.’

2. Dave Marshall 

Dave Marshall made international headlines in November last year when Gay Star News broke the story of his charity fundraising efforts.

Marshall is a personal trainer and openly gay wrestler from Perth, Australia.

He started his wrestling career in 2015, at the age of 26. He now wrestles for Perth-based wrestling company Southern Hemisphere Wrestling Alliance.

Marshall initially came out as bisexual to his now ex-girlfriend at the age of 23, then came out again as gay at 25.

‘I owed it to myself to explore [it] at a mature age,’ he said. ‘My family – even a very homophobic uncle – were all very supportive.’

Dave Marshall
Dave Marshall. | Photo: davemarshall89 / Instagram

What makes Marshall remarkable is his hugely successful charitable initiative of making homemade porn to fight LGBTI suicides.

Marshall explained he wanted to do something to give back to the community after his father took his own life two years ago.

In an Instagram post, Marshall revealed he saw ‘how big depression and anxiety has become in society and almost overlooked.’

Marshall then added: ‘Older men have a “Harden the fuck up” mentality they were brought up with.

‘Stats on LGBT in this area are quite scary too so I hope I can in some way, give back to my community. Positivity is everything,’ he said.

Dave Marshall
Dave Marshall. | Photo: / Instagram

He initially donated the money to suicide prevention charity Beyond Blue, but they informed him they couldn’t accept his money because it came from pornography.

So he decided to instead donate his money to mental health charity, the Black Dog Institute. He’s raised $10,000 AUD ($7,228 US) in a year.

3. Nyla Rose

Washington-born Nyla Rose (aka Nyla the Destroyer) actually started out as an actress.

She starred in the 2016 Canadian television comedy series The Switch as the lead character. Rose played a Native American IT manager who comes out as a trans woman and has to rebuild her life after losing her job and her apartment as a result of her announcement.

The show aired six episodes over one season.


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Just last month, Rose made history by becoming the first transgender person to sign onto a major wrestling league.

All Elite Wrestling (AEW) made the announcement on 7 February and Rose confirmed the news on Twitter by posting a photo of the AEW logo, with the caption: ‘Oh it’s true alright.’

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, with Nyla Rose getting into a heated argument with Kylie Ray on stage:

The transgender wrestler has won the Warriors Of Wrestling Women’s Championship twice, the Covey Promotions Women’s Championship three times and the United Pro Wrestling Association Women’s Championship once.

4. Darren Young

Darren Young (real name Frederick Douglas Rosser III) is a hugely successful professional wrestler.

He made several appearances on WWE’s Sunday Night Heat, Velocity, Raw and SmackDown and is best known for his time as one half of the Prime Time Players with Titus O’Neil, as well as being part of the seven-member team Nexus.

In an interview in 2015, Darren Young publicly came out as gay. This made him the first ever active wrestler to come out as gay.


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The 35-year-old revealed his sexuality to a TMZ photographer after he was asked if a gay wrestler could be successful.

Laughing, he said: ‘Absolutely, absolutely! Look at me. I’m a WWE Superstar, and to be honest with you I’m gay. And I’m happy, very happy.’

Young then added: ‘It’s very important to me that people understand that someone’s sexual preference shouldn’t really matter. It should be about the person.’


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He’s since gone on to participate in anti-bullying campaigns and be vocal against WWE touring the United Arab Emirates, due to the country’s anti-gay laws.

Young was also a playable character in WWE’s 2K14 video game.

He now wrestles on the independent circuit under his real name. Young also revealed his mother is a lesbian.

5. Paige

Paige (real name Saraya-Jade Bevis) is an English professional wrestler, making her debut at the age of 13.

She signed on with WWE in 2011 and debuted on their main roster in 2014. In her debut match, she won the Divas Championship, becoming the youngest champion in the title’s history at the age of 21.

Paige quickly became one to watch, winning several big titles throughout her professional wrestling career. She’s also amassed a huge online following, with over 5.3 million followers on Instagram to date.

She announced her retirement from in-ring wrestling in April 2018, but then became the general manager of SmackDown. At the end of last year, she stepped down from the position, but remains in the show.


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Alongside her wrestling career, Paige joined the cast of Total Divas – an American reality television show on the lives of female professional wrestlers.

During one of the episodes, fellow WWE colleague Rosa Mendes kissed Paige, who then revealed she’s bisexual.

As the cast were discussing if they’ve kissed girls in the past, Paige said: ‘I feel like it’s ok to do these days. It’s like the 21st century – I’m not very fussy.’

Mendes responds: ‘So you have been with a girl then?’

Then Paige replies: ‘Well yeah, it’s the 21st century – I just said that.’

Paige said she doesn’t discriminate between genders when it comes to finding love. She is currently dating rock band Falling in Reverse frontman Ronnie Radke.

6. Kris Wolf

Kris Wolf (real name Kris Hernandez) is a Chicago-born professional wrestler. She spent her childhood years in New Jersey, but eventually settled in San Fransisco before moving to Japan to be an English teacher in Tokyo.

After a year and a half of teaching, she entered a competition to start joshi puroresu – a popular form of professional wrestling in Japan. She signed with World Wonder Ring Stardom.

Over the next four years, she won a couple of championships, including the High Speed Championship and the Alternative Wrestling Show Women’s World Championship.


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In January this year, Wolf posted to Twitter about her wedding to her wife.

‘I found my human,’ she wrote on Twitter. ‘She makes me feel like existence is slightly less terrifying. Thank you, universe.

‘P.S. All of my in-laws are tall vikings. The universe has quite a sense of humor,’ she tweeted.

Last month, Wolf announced her latest tour will be her last and she’ll retire due to injuries.

7. Mack Beggs

Mack Beggs made international headlines in 2017 when the state of Texas forced him to compete in the female state wrestling tournament, despite identifying as male.

According to guidelines, athletes must compete in tournaments that match their gender assigned to them at birth.

As a result, Beggs won both the 2017 and 2018 state championship tournaments.

The crowd ended up booing Beggs after his 2018 win.

Mack Beggs
Mack Beggs. | Photo: Mack Rylee Karam / Facebook

He said in a recent interview with Daily Dot: ‘I still get upset about it sometimes. Yeah, I won two state titles. But I identify as a dude.’

Beggs then added: ‘I couldn’t do anything about it. Technically, I did win but I didn’t win. It’s a fucked situation.’

The 19-year-old wrestler recently announced on his Instagram page that he will now be wrestling for Life University in Georgia.

ESPN created a new documentary entitled Mack Wrestles, which follows his inspiring story. It also features the unique relationship he has with his supportive grandmother.

8. Jake Atlas

California resident Jake Atlas (real name Kenny Marquez) came out as gay at the end of 2017. He made the announcement on Twitter, right after winning the Southern California Rookie of the Year award.

The 24-year-old said winning the award was the ‘proudest’ moment of his life and it gave him the confidence to live his truth.

He first realized he was gay in the sixth grade, when he liked a boy in his class.

But when he actually came out to his mother and brother three years later, they didn’t react well.

‘Being openly gay is still something I struggle sharing with my mom,’ he told Gay Star News in 2018. ‘She’s fully become accepting, but she always admits that in her heart, it hurts her.’

Jake Atlas
Jake Atlas. | Photo: supplied

Atlas found Santino Bros Wrestling Academy in Los Angeles in July of 2014 and initiated his training then.

He trained at least three to four days a week for the next two years until finally achieving his professional debut on 6 August 2016.

He’s now on the independent scene and said he’s ‘having a blast’.

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