There aren't many openly gay wrestlers in pro wrestling today, but indie wrestler Effy is an exception. With virtually every profession, there are hurdles that someone openly gay may have to deal with that others wouldn't have to, and Effy talked about those in wrestling when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"There's peaks and valleys to it. First, when I wasn't as vocal about my personal life but still very flamboyant and exaggerated in the wrestling world, a lot of southern bookers would bring me in. They weren't thinking they were bringing in a homosexual, but someone with a gimmick," said Effy. "I kept my mouth shut a lot and then I started to kind of open my mouth and when people started showing up to shows who were more like me and LGBTQ, I felt more of a responsibility to be vocal about these things."
Effy said that being vocal cost him some bookings in the South, but he wouldn't even want to work with someone like that who isn't open-minded.
"Maybe it's been a blessing. I might have thought it would be a curse at some point. But as far as the locker room, it's been wonderful. You have your problems here and there, but most people are at ease confiding in you about their sexuality and hopefully I've been a blessing in that way," said Effy before noting that Chris Kanyon commit suicide and that wrestlers shouldn't live with self-hate."
With the biases of some promoters, Effy was asked if he had lost any bookings for being gay.
"Yeah and there's also the expectation where if we're gonna bring this gay guy in then let's better do some gay stuff and put on a dress, wear some makeup and prance around," stated Effy who then added that when he says he's not going to act like a stereotypical gay then they just stop booking him.
"These are southern places. I got my start in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and I think they're opening their eyes because money talks and fans are showing up."
Pro wrestling has made some strides in being more inclusive of women and the LGBTQ community, but still has ways to go. Effy was asked if this increased inclusion has seemed genuine.
"For the most part it is genuine. I think the thing we're dealing with now is for the longest time in pro wrestling you were told what to do by the person in charge and you clearly knew who was in charge. Now it's very muddy as to who is in charge. You've got indie guys kinda doing whatever they want and promotions are booking them because they do whatever they want. You've got companies having to sign these exclusive deals with people to keep them and make sure they're doing stuff they want. There's a lot of creative stifling but for the people taking the effort in bringing them in, they're seeing growth in the fan base," said Effy.
He then talked about how many fans, gay and otherwise, coming back to pro wrestling who left because they felt it wasn't a safe space.
"The fans are genuinely happy. The companies are genuinely happy. We're all working together and nobody's fully in charge except for the people paying the money," said Effy.
Effy was then asked about the detractors he gets on social media.
"Yeah, you get some stuff," admitted Effy. "Most of the negativity comes from people saying, 'Well, you've talked about gay people and LGBTQ stuff. When are you gonna be done talking about that?'
"Well, I'll stop talking about it when we stop having problems. I'll stop talking about it when trans people stop showing up murdered. I'll stop talking about it when gay people can walk down the street and not get beat up."
He added that he largely deals with city crowds that have moved forward but notes that he still deals with smaller cities where he deals with homophobia and racism.
As for those smaller cities, Effy was asked if he's seen incremental progressive changes in those places.
"Pro wrestling has to help it and they're realizing it now. I see the change now. I think I've wrestled in 20 different states now…and when I look at the incremental change, it's people coming up to you in the locker room. It's queer people getting booked more. It's seeing the faces that you wouldn't expect to pop up, pop up. And that's awesome to see," said Effy who added that the internet has helped wrestling fans learn more and they come out from everywhere.
"We now have the reach to get to people all over the place and at least say, 'Hey, here's our message. If you wanna be a part of this message, then bring us in and let's do it. If not, that's cool but you're gonna lose out on money.' That's where you see the changes start to happen.
"When they bring you in and it makes a real difference at the door, they get to see, 'Oh, we've been not booking queer talent and they could have been adding to our show? Or we've been not booking black talent and they could have really been adding to my show?'
"We just have to show them every day."
Effy's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it Effy discusses his bloody GCW World title match with Nick Gage, blood testing in pro wrestling, losing bookings for being gay, refusing to do "gay stuff", Dustin Rhodes not embracing Goldust, AEW's biggest hurdle and more. You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here. Subscribe to Wrestling Inc. Audio on iTunes or Google Play. Listen to the show via Spotify here or through TuneIn here.