WWE referee Shawn Bennett took National Coming Out Day to heart Monday when he came out publicly as gay in beaming fashion.
Bennett, who currently referees matches on WWE’s flagship program “Raw,” shared his truth in a heartwarming Instagram post that chronicled his journey to living openly as his true self in pro wrestling.
“I’m proud of who I am, what I’ve accomplished, where my life is headed and my way of life,” Bennett said. “Like everyone else, at the end of the day I just want to be happy, to give and receive love, both to myself and to others.
“I started refereeing at age 14. I did my best to suppress any and all homosexual thoughts before and after that for a long time. I didn’t come to my own full realization about myself until early twenties. That’s when I knew it was the way of life that would make me happy. As cliche as it sounds, I feel I was born this way.”
Bennett stated that he had been out previously to friends and family since his late twenties, saying he “stopped hiding it but would never put myself out there in any way.”
He continued to hide his LGBTQ identity after joining WWE in 2013, going so far as pretending to be single while in a relationship to keep his secret.
Coming out Monday represented him removing that “mask.”
“I spent my first ten years involved in pro wrestling terrified of my sexuality,” Bennett added. “I was convinced that I would never be successful if people knew I was gay. Those were fears that I made up in my head.”
Bennett’s message came alongside images of him celebrating at Come Out With Pride Orlando with others while wearing the “We Are All Human” shirt made famous in wrestling circles by former WWE wrestler Jake Atlas, who is also gay.
Bennett ended his announcement with a message of encouragement that fits perfectly with the message of National Coming Out Day.
“Representation is important. Always face your fears. Always chase your dreams. Above all, always be yourself. It’s worth it.”
Outsports congratulates Bennett on living his truth and showing that courage is contagious.