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16 MAR 2019
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.
- 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.
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.’
- 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.
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:
Kylie Ray vs. Nyla
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.
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.
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.
- 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 Francisco 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.
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.