Pro wrestling’s largest stage of the year, Wrestlemania weekend, is rapidly approaching. WWE’s most popular, bloated and long-winded show of the year emanates from Tampa, Fla., on April 5, but more and more the destination event is being defined by the week of events from nearly every popular independent promotion under the sun.
What with a one-off Ring of Honor show during Wrestlemania 27 weekend in Atlanta, Ga. is now a marathon of shows, Q&As, live podcasts and meet & greets that cater to nearly every demographic within the wrestling fandom.
But something is different about this year’s Mania weekend crop: marginalized voices within pro wrestling, specifically LGBTQ and people of color, are throwing their own in-ring celebrations. And it is glorious.
“We’re throwing our parties,” EFFY, pro wrestler and producer of EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch, told Outsports. “Our parties are wrestling shows. Our parties are going to have some the craziest, coolest people that might not be on these other shows, but we’ve got a whole slot for them here now.”
EFFY says #makeitgayer— EFFY (@EFFYlives) January 31, 2020
In the best brand synergy of all time,
The Bicurious Battle Royal is now being presented by @boybutter, the leader in gay lube butters.
The winner will receive a sexy lubricant prize pack from Boy Butter to use for their pleasurehttps://t.co/jQMParxLYh pic.twitter.com/aFCL4DmgUh
EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch is just one example of the showcase of marginalized talent ready to descend on Tampa in April. Uncanny Attractions: Drags and Dropkicks Vol. 4 will bring it’s celebrated mix of drag and inclusive pro wrestling along with Jamie Senegal’s queer, punk throwdown Jalex Takes Back The Power. AJ Gray’s For The Culture event looks to showcase the very best in black in-ring talent while Faye Jackson’s Grey Sweatpants Battle Royal plans to celebrate female sexuality and sex positivity in a way rarely seen in a wrestling ring.
To say there’s an option for everyone this year would be an understatement. But the beautiful thing is that while these events are creating spaces for their key audiences, they also will undoubtedly serve as spaces of exposure for fans that exist outside of the minority audiences the events serve. That ability to make voices within the fandom more familiar to the wider wrestling fan base, and even those that wouldn’t be caught dead at a wrestling show, is key to companies like Uncanny Attractions.
“We want to take your idea of what a wrestling show is and turn it upside down. Wrestling is an artform. We want to showcase wrestling as an artform and incorporate it with other different elements of art,” said Darnell Mitchell, producer for Uncanny Attractions, during a recent appearance on Outsports’ LGBT In The Ring podcast.
“Yes, I want ‘Jasmine’ to come to our show, but ‘Jasmine’ might’ve come to our show because she saw the word ‘drag’ on our poster … but I still want ‘Kenny’ who goes to every wrestling show to be like, ‘Oh, there’s drag? I’ve never seen drag,’ Mitchell said. “I want ‘Kenny’ to get used to seeing drag and to be in this space of queer community because that allows him to grow as a person, that allows him to grow as a wrestling fan and that allows wrestling to grow altogether.”
“We’re putting our own thing together, and I guarantee you it’s going to be very successful,” said pro wrestler and Uncanny Attractions producer MV Young.
Check out full interviews with Darnell Mitchell, EFFY and MV Young on Outsports’ LGBT In The Ring podcast, available every Thursday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and other podcast services.