Prosperity takes many forms in pro wrestling, typically following the subjective metrics one sets for themself. The more common definitions focus on drawing power and attaining financial stability through doing what you love, but achievements that hold personal wealth rank just as important: checking off names on your wrestling bucket list, forming lasting and rewarding relationships and finding a larger purpose that your craft can serve.

All of these things ring true for veteran independent pro wrestler Dewey Murray, but one bar proved more empowering to supplant: finding the comfort to live out and proud as a gay man within the industry that has come to define him.

But coming to that place isn’t always a quick process. Murray didn’t come to that spot until 13 years into his near 17-year in-ring career mainly because of self-imposed caveats that link to historic stigmas against LGBTQ people within pro wrestling.

“I was one of those guys where I’m not going to come out unless I win a world title because nobody’s ever going to tell me I sucked a dick to get a title,” Murray told Outsports. “That was one of those things, being around the indies… not everybody gets a push because they do one of the above. Some people can captivate fans or some promoters are into the physique. Whatever it may be, you get over for different reasons.”

Murray’s experience in wrestling locker rooms while closeted informed those frustrations, juxtaposing horseplay and jokes between straight male wrestlers with the attitude toward the presence of an actual gay peer. “It was weird… you go in a locker room and you’d see guys playing grab ass and stuff,” Murray said. “But, if somebody was actually gay, it was a completely different tone. It was like ‘They shouldn’t change in the locker room.’ Hold on. You just grabbed his butt but I can’t be who I am? I’m glad it’s a better time.”

The man known colloquially as “The Real Mutha Trucker” also didn’t want to come out publicly until he found love. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to come out and then get dumped,” Murray chuckled. That condition was met when Murray fell for his fiance, Morgan, five years ago. The couple made wrestling a family business with Morgan selling Murray’s merchandise at events. That also provided a humorous avenue for Murray to reveal their relationship to his wrestling peers.

“I started telling everybody personally and some were like, ‘Oh, we knew for a while.’ The people that didn’t know were asked ‘are you seeing somebody? Who is he? Can we meet him?” Murray recalled with a big smile. “I said, ‘You already met him.’ Everybody’s like, ‘We didn’t meet anybody.’ I’m banging my merch guy. I’ve been dating him for two years.”

Murray with his fiance Morgan

Murray’s last condition before coming out was securing his position within his chosen field. Job security and financial stability are fragile in any industry, much less pro wrestling, but Murray found firm ground in the Upstate New York and surrounding independent wrestling scenes. He also became a regular extra on WWE programming when the company ran events in the Rochester, N.Y. area.

That position further solidified after Murray began working with the National Psoriasis Foundation four years ago. Murray had mixed advocacy and wrestling before with organizations like Chaos For Canines and Cutting For a Cure, but putting his voice behind the NPF held personal significance.

Murray has dealt with the condition since his teenage years, including his entire wrestling career, and many aspects of his in-ring presentation resulted from that struggle. He doesn’t wear knee pads because he would “have to peel them off” his distressed skin. His trademark bandana-laden look doubles as camouflage for the skin on his elbows. He tests his blood quarterly, far more regularly than most pro wrestlers, because he is more susceptible to bleeding in the close confines of the ring and takes immunosuppressants.

But Murray turned his condition into a positive through his work with the NPF. He regularly emcees NPF galas in the northeast U.S. and appears in NPF media, including some work with pop music icon and WWE Hall of Famer Cyndi Lauper. “She has a run left in her,” Murray said. “I did one of the photoshoots with her and she started chain wrestling with me.” Murray also pushed the NPF’s cause online through videos responding to All Elite Wrestling’s Cody Rhodes’ TNT title open challenge in 2020.

Dewey Murray

Most of the parameters Murray set for himself have been met in recent years, yet he still decided to come out before meeting his strict criteria. A key reason for this change of heart lies with the figure adorning Murray’s shirt when I spoke with him: Brodie Lee.

Lee, real name Jon Huber, was one of the most beloved figures in pro wrestling, a fact cemented by the outpouring of love that came in the wake of his tragic passing in December 2020. Murray came up through the Rochester, NY area with Lee, tagging with him regularly before Lee reached the heights of WWE and AEW. Their tight friendship and Lee’s unending support pushed Murray to see past his self-imposed goalposts.

“[Brodie] was the first person, the first real wrestler, that I came out to,” Murray said. “I probably would have hid for a while until I officially had to get married… I’ve never seen, in wrestling, somebody be more happy and get that adrenaline thrill from helping somebody else.”

Murray also felt Lee’s support in his work with the NPF. “I get tax returns from wrestling and I achieve that with this advocacy work. I would text him and thank him and he would say ‘No, dog. You did it yourself,’” Murray said. “He was that guy where he’d get you there and you would thank him to the moon and he would say ‘No, you worked. I didn’t. We just had a couple shots of Tito’s. What did I really do?’ He’s going to be missed.”

Now, Murray is applying that uplifting attitude in the hopes of helping others who, like him, felt unease in living openly. “I hope [my experience] makes a lot more people feel free to be who you are,” Murray said. “Being open about your sexuality isn’t going to change your gimmick or who you are, but it is going to change how you feel.”