A gay man fighting in mixed martial arts is the subject of a short fictional film, "Pride Fighter," being produced by a University of Alabama film student. He has started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the movie.
"I came up with this idea through my experience training in mixed marital arts," writer and director Danny Ryan told Outsports. "Although the MMA community can be fraternal and welcoming, it is also aggressive, masculine and high in testosterone. In my experience, some athletes in the sport tend to be uncomfortable and intolerant towards gay people.
"To me, this is ironic given that MMA usually involves two members of the same sex getting very close. I think it's the overall mentality that the sport emits and this culture that it has created that inspired this idea. After coming up with the idea, I used athletes like [football player] Michael Sam and [boxer] Orlando Cruz (not specific MMA fighters) as some inspiration for the experience of coming out in male dominated sport and community."
The film deals with Alex, "an amateur mixed martial artist who aspires to fight competitively. When he comes out as gay, he is rejected and discriminated by his hyper-masculine fighting partners. He is left with no one to train with and no support before his first fight. The film explores the masculine identity of a mixed martial arts fighter, how they view themselves, and how the sport is perceived."
Ryan is straight and says some members of the film crew, including the cinematographer, are gay. The lead has not been cast and most of the actors will be from Alabama and have some MMA training..
Ryan is $1,500 short of his $4,000 goal to fund the film. I like the concept and hope it gets made since I want to see Ryan's perspective on the issue. Here is the director's Kickstarter pitch video: