Professional wrestling shows humanity through its LGBTQ+ stars

Nyla Rose and Kenn Moore are proof that self-expression is a key to success

Wrestling promotions are learning to celebrate and empower their LGBTQ+ stars.
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Professional sports are, before anything else, entertainment. This idea becomes clearer as teams and leagues constantly look for new ways to attract fans.
 
More than the competition itself, the people who compete are most important for many of these fans. This is truer for no athletic showcase more than professional wrestling where the storylines being portrayed are just as crucial as the action happening in the ring.
 
An integral aspect of professional wrestling is the characters that make up the roster of a promotion. Following the archetype of the face versus the heel, there’s a place for every character to flourish and contribute to the storylines.
 
Professional wrestling, for all its violence, operates in a way that is similar to LGBTQ+ friendly events such as drag shows. Wrestlers can tell their own stories based on how they express themselves outside the ring and their style within it. 
 
By conducting itself this way, professional wrestling allows fans to intensify with its stars as they express themselves to the fullest. For queer folks, it is a chance to see community members finding massive success without compromising their individual identities.
 
One person who has capitalized on this opportunity is Nyla Rose of the promotion All Elite Wrestling. Rose is notable as the first openly trans  professional wrestler and became AEW Women’s World Champion in February 2020. 
 
The upstart company, All Elite Wrestling, has quickly become one of the top in the professional wrestling scene, thanks in no small part to the recruitment and training of wrestlers whose showmanship matches their skills.
 
Another example of this is Kenn Moore—known as Kenn Vazion inside the ring—of MEGA Championship Wrestling, who describes his preparation as “getting cute, looking sexy, being better than everybody else.” For him, each of those three areequally important. 
 
Moore has spoken to how finding oneself is a key to finding success in the world of professional wrestling. A wrestler’s identity must be allowed to breathe before they can truly belong. 
 
As professional sports organizations look to compete in an entertainment landscape that is becoming progressively more competitive, there are calls from fans to encourage the athletes to show more of their personality and shine as individuals. 
 
People ache for reminders that star competitors are as human as the rest of us—professional wrestling has used this formula for decades to find continuing success.
 
Other professional sports should follow the lead of professional wrestling by integrating the identities of their athletes directly into the narratives of sport, making them an integral part of the value proposition. In doing so, they will not only improve the product for their fans, but also show that sports are a safe space where everyone can thrive. 
 

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