'Out' pro-wrestler Jensen Ryan hopes to inspire others amid LGBT+ Pride and Honour charity wrestling event at Empire Hall, Totton
A PRO-WRESTLER who feared he would not be accepted in the sport as a gay man is set to host a charity event in Totton in support of the local LGBT+ community.
Jensen Ryan had hidden his sexuality since becoming involved in wrestling in his mid-30s, but says when he came out he was “welcomed and embraced” by fellow competitors.
He is now organising a ‘Pride and Honour’ charity wrestling event at the Empire Hall in Salisbury Road, on May 13th to raise money for People’s Pride Southampton. The charity supports the LGBT+ community and organises pride events such as Party In The Park, Trans Pride Southampton and many more over the past few years.
“So few gay men come out in the sports world I did not how others would react,” Jensen told the A&T.
“If you look at how few Premier League footballers or top cricketers have announced they are gay, it is quite amazing.
“I was worried about how others would react if I revealed my sexuality, especially as wrestling is such a contact sport.
“If people asked if I was married with kids, I’d just ignore the question instead of just saying ‘actually I am gay’.”
Now 39, Jensen finally revealed his sexuality to the wrestling world after seeing an announcement on the website of the club where he trained celebrating National Coming Out Day.
The former Quality Wrestling champion, from Southampton, said the Totton event is also aimed at raising awareness that sport is for everyone.
Talking about the reaction to his coming out, he said: “I couldn’t have hoped for a better one. When I saw the post about coming out day, I thought, ‘I am happy with who I am, why am I hiding it?’.
“I struggled mentally worrying what people would think if they knew I was gay. But everyone has been really positive about it.”
Top wrestlers taking part in the event will include Jensen himself, along with James Cena, Johnny Royal and Joe Butler. Starting at 6pm, it will have a rumble followed by several matches with all profits going to Peoples Pride Southampton.
Since opening up about his sexuality, Jensen, whose moves including the tornado, DDT, TKO and the springboard clothesline, has appeared on TV talking about his journey.
“I hope my story inspires people, especially youngsters, to feel they can be who they really are,” he said. “Sport is truly inclusive; I have discovered that for myself.”
For tickets, priced £10 for adults and £8 for children under age of 12, visit www.prideandhonourwrestling.co.uk