AEW’s Sonny Kiss says things are getting better for LGBTQ performers in professional wrestling. He feels good about the group All Elite Wrestling has assembled on its roster and is proud of what they’ve already accomplished.
“They have 7-8 different LGBTQ wrestlers on a national platform performing,” Kiss told The Shining Wizards podcast. “Nyla [Rose] won the [AEW] Womens’ Championship. First-ever transgender woman to do that. During Black History Month, at that.
“There’s just… so many great things going on,” Kiss continued. “And everybody is just killing it in their own right. And they’re not looking at us as just LGBTQ performers. They’re looking at us as performers that happen to be LGBTQ. That gives representation. That’s really what it is. That’s what it’s about.”
AEW has taken steps to make its workplace a safer, more welcoming space for its LGBTQ wrestlers. Sonny Kiss mentioned one accommodation that was made for him.
“I’m in the women’s locker room while I’m on the men’s roster,” Kiss explained. “When the women train, I train too. And we train with Dustin Rhodes. Dustin Rhodes is basically like the ‘Fit Finlay’ of the women’s division at AEW. He helps us and gets us prepared for matches and stuff like that.”
Despite the headway, there have been some recent negative moments. During last week’s Dynamite, a person sitting in the front row held a transphobic sign during Nyla Rose’s entrance and was ejected. Another incident, during an episode of Dynamite earlier this month, had a person in the arena yelling a homophobic slur at Anthony Bowens.
LGBTQ wrestlers also face abuse on social media, and Kiss shared his mindset when it comes to abusive behavior online.
“Social media is interesting because it’s one of the greatest and worst phenomenons that’s ever [been] invented,” Kiss said. “You’re never prepared for what you’re getting into on social media. Not even – It doesn’t have anything to do with your fame. It’s also just being a human being on the internet. And having social media where people can judge and people have the freedom to say whatever they want to.
“But I think as performers we understand that you do have to have thick skin,” Kiss continued. “Because sometimes you’re gonna crumble. Sometimes you’re not gonna be tough about it. Sometimes it’s really gonna hurt you. You’re never really prepared for it. You kinda just have to go with the flow and just keep pushing forward. It really, really sucks.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Shining Wizards with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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