It takes just a glance at out wrestler Don’t Die Miles’ in-ring work to know that he lives up to his name. His high-flying style and penchant toward high-risk maneuvers have made him popular among the eastern U.S. independent scene, yet the “Don’t Die” moniker also speaks to the unending heart and determination on display every time he steps into the ring.
Like countless other pro wrestlers, it took Miles years to build his profile and become the endearing presence that fans embrace. But it wasn’t until late last year that he felt empowered to take control of his identity and put the true Miles, both the wrestler and person, in the spotlight.
Don’t Die Miles began his career wrestling under the name Miles Morales, the namesake of the Afro-Latinx Marvel character typically referred to as Harlem’s Spider-Man. The moniker fit well with his acrobatic style but it never felt genuine to Miles himself.
“I was so miserable as Miles Morales. I didn’t want to tell anybody because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings,” Miles said on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring. The disconnect between Miles and the persona was even wider because Miles admittedly held no knowledge or reverence for the superhero that inspired it when it was bestowed upon him.
In Oct. 2020, Miles took his identity into his own hands. He announced that he would only be known as Don’t Die Miles going forward, leaving the name that impacted his love of wrestling to the point that he almost walked away from the industry. Fears that Marvel may enforce its copyright on the name factored into the decision, but, for Miles, the evolution was more about personal fulfillment.
“I had to make myself happy. I wanted to wrestle under a name that I felt comfortable with,” Miles said. “I wanted to make sure that everybody knew me as this person instead of [Miles Morales]… I take pride in my name and I want to put positivity out there.”
This period of transition also gave Miles the opportunity to put his personal truth, one that exists beyond the curtain, out to the world as well. Miles came out as pansexual on National Coming Out Day, saying he wanted everyone to know “I am who I am.”
So today is #NationalComingOutDay and I figured it’s about time to make sure y’all know. I’m pansexual. I don’t think it really matters in the ring but I at least want to make it known that I am who I am.— Miles (@DontDieMiles) October 11, 2020
Miles previously tried to come out a few years ago but resistance from his family made him feel like he needed to remain closeted. His family is more positive this time around, even if Miles doubts those feelings are fully genuine, but Miles’ announcement clearly impacted at least one family member positively. Miles’ nephew came out as LGBTQ shortly after Miles’ announcement pointing to his uncle as an inspiration to do so.
“He is one hell of a little nephew,” Miles said. “I used to babysit all [my nieces and nephews]… them growing up now is moving me and my heart to do better, make them proud of who their uncle is and let them know they can achieve anything they want.”