LGBTQ pro wrestling continued its unprecedented growth during 2019. But it could reach new heights in 2020, beginning with the announcement of Prime Time Pro Wrestling’s LGBTQ-centric event, Butch v. Gore, on March 7.
Butch v. Gore will distinguish itself from other Pride-focused events in several aspects, most notably that PTPW co-founder and promoter Mister Gator chose to step aside and place complete creative control in the hands of non-binary PTPW co-founder and chief brand officer Lolo McGrath and gay PTPW roster member Billy Dixon.
For Gator, the decision was a “no-brainer.”
“Being a great ally doesn’t mean writing the playbook and having everyone follow that,” Gator told Outsports. “Being a great ally means creating opportunities for people. And it would be arrogant of me to think that I could book a wrestling show like this without the feedback of Lolo and Billy.”
“[Gator] understands that to create change for him as a white cis-het male that requires him to strategically use his privilege to completely aid marginalized groups,” Dixon told the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring, adding, “I think that out of all the promoters I’ve dealt with, even some queer promoters, he really sticks out as someone who is really intent on having an understanding of the people that he wants to not only employ, but represent and empower.”
It’s a very rare occurrence in pro wrestling for a promoter to place someone else in control, even for a single show. Both McGrath and Dixon, collectively known as the “Queermanders-in-Chief,” understand what Gator’s decision represents but wish that others would recognize what LGBTQ voices can provide to both LGBTQ-focused events and the industry as a whole. “It’s very flattering and frustrating at the same time because more people should be doing it and not a lot of folks want to take that chance,” McGrath told Outsports.
The tenets of Butch v. Gore fall in line with the principles PTPW has put into practice during its first year of operation. The promotion regularly features a diverse cast of talent from marginalized communities. McGrath’s choice to approach Dixon to co-produce the show speaks even further to that mission statement.
“This opportunity is really cool and really exciting. Because not to mention that it’s a queer wrestler getting the opportunity to co-promote, co-produce and co-book a show, but it’s a queer wrestler of color,” said Dixon. “Although we have Sonny Kiss, Nyla Rose and Jake Atlas, I think that they’d rather let their actions do the talking. But I think that what really moves the needle forward is a little bit of both. I think a little bit more verbal confrontation of an issue is a little bit more effective.”
The other key difference between Butch v. Gore and other Pride wrestling events is its placement on the calendar. Holding the show in March as opposed to June, the traditional Pride month, was a conscious choice that all three agree was the right move.
“In my experience, June is my target month to, like, make my money. [Butch v. Gore] not being in June sends a very powerful message… to have a show that’s not in June, really says that you believe that this talent is valid,” said Dixon. “That’s really putting the point home that these talents that we have cannot only draw, they can excel and perform. They can give you quality entertainment any month of the year.”
The show is set to be standout, with Dixon promising plenty of “crazy shit,” but all involved hope it has a lasting effect for PTPW and pro wrestling as a whole both in and out of the ring.
“We wanted to get out ahead of ahead of everybody else and do it first. Maybe the cynic in me is wrong and some of these other promotions that are not run by queer people will say, ‘Okay, fuck it. We do need to change our ways,’” said McGrath.
“The show is really about the strength and the diversity and the many different talents of this community coming together and not giving you a Pride show… I want this to be like an explosion of the queer imagination,” exclaimed Dixon.
“I really am hoping that there are people who are are queer, who exist in the fringes in any way, whether that’s within queerness or not, to come to the show maybe as a friend of a friend, someone who’s not already a wrestling fan, and go, ‘Oh my gosh. This is just another way that we can continue to build a big, weird, beautiful queer community,’” said McGrath. “Wrestling is an amazing vehicle for that.”
For more, check out the full interview with Dixon and McGrath on the latest episode of LGBT In The Ring. Subscribe and download this and all our Outsports podcasts at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify.