Coming out, even in 2018, is still something that is very hard to do. Coming out when you are a professional in the sports world makes opening that closet door even tougher, as it is still riddled with massive homophobia to this day. Luckily, pro wrestler Mike Parrow's experience with coming out has ended up being highly discussed in the most positive of ways, both in and out of the ring.
Mike bravely made the decision to come out of the closet in late 2017 to massive support from his friends, family and even better.,. his fellow pro wrestlers. It wasn't always easy for him to find his place to being his authentic self, however, as he dealt with his own demons which included a stint in conversion therapy and even dealing with problematic issues with how harsh fellow gay men can be in the community.
Now, Mike looks to be on top of the world and doing very well in the process. He has found the love of his life, developed a big name for himself in the pro wrestling circuit, and was even awesome enough for us to name him one of our 2017 Entertainers of the Year for his brave efforts.
Mike sat down with us exclusively to discuss it all, from coming out of the closet to the best advice he has ever received and how he crushes on Nick Jonas like many of us. Take a look.
We named you one of our Entertainers of the Year this year for your incredible story. How did it feel when that happened to you?
It was a humbling experience to even be mentioned with the other individuals who you nominated. It was totally unexpected, and I was extremely grateful.
Let's back up a second here and start from the beginning. What caused you to want to come out in the first place?
I started to come out about 4 and a half years ago lately my coworkers have wanted me to share my story because I said I had no gay role models growing up, and I felt alone, so they encouraged me to share with the world.
On a level of 1-10, 1 being the best and 10 being the worst, where do you think homophobia in sports is now?
That is a two-sided question. Where do I feel it is in the locker room and where do I feel it is in the fanbase? In the locker room I would say it is about a 3, because there really isn't homophobia in the locker room, because being part of a team is like being part of a family, and if you can help your team win, they don't care what your sexual preference is. Now, fanbase? I would say it is about a 5, because I feel some parts of the nation are still very misinformed about homosexuality.
Have you found any backlash against you coming out within the sport that you play, and has any other out athlete reached out to you since then?
I've had many athletes from different sports reach out to me and express their support, but I have not received any backlash from the athletic community. However, I did receive some backlash from certain parts of the LGBT community especially over my comments on masculine shaming. Which I understand, but my story wasn't to help people who were already out, it was to help people like me.
I know you spoke about going into conversion therapy years ago, which only made you realize that you were in fact, gay. Do you think conversion therapy will go away eventually, and what will it take for that to happen?
I do believe that it will go away eventually, but I also believe everything starts with education. We have to educate people that it is not a choice that we make, but something that we are born with.
What has been the biggest piece of advice someone has given you about living your authentic self in 2018?
The only person that can make anything happen is yourself, so always try to be as authentic as possible.
I know you've found love (which many, many men are jealous of). For those who don't know, how did you guys meet, and where do you see it all going in the future?
I am a religious person, so I did pray to God to give me a sign, and the next time I went to play pool at a bar with my friends, I saw Morgan there. He didn't see me, and I was afraid to say hello to him, so even though I passed by him like 900 times to go to the bathroom, he left, but over the next few weeks we would see each other, still not speaking, at the super market, where I stalked him through the aisles and still didn't have enough courage to say hello, or a restaurant, and I finally found him on Scruff where we started talking. We went on a date and it was the worst first date ever, because I had no idea how to talk to guys. We tried to see each other for about 2 weeks, but I was extremely closeted and made everything difficult, so we got into an argument and he broke it off. I tried to be the tough guy and not call him but three weeks later he called which made my decision to come out of the closet for him to make things work, and he hasn't left my side since, 4 and a half years later. I recently asked him to marry me. He wants the same things I do, start a family and have kids. We want to be parents.
Let's do some fun questions: Favorite song? Favorite movie? Biggest celebrity crush of all time? Favorite snack, and finally… Madonna or Gaga?
Guilty pleasure song: “Bye Bye Bye” by *NSYNC, Favorite movie: All three Back to the Futures, or Indiana Jones, it’s a toss-up. Celebrity crush: Nick Jonas or Julian Edelman, I can't decide. Favorite snack: Tuna and cheese, I know it is weird. Madonna or Gaga: Aren't they the same person? But if I had to choose I'd choose Gaga, but I feel Madonna is way more fun to hang out with.
Anything else you would like to add to this interview?
The main reason I came out is that I want young athletes like I was to know they are not alone and being gay is not a curse, and I hope in 2018 more athletes come out to help young athletes fulfill their potential.
For more on Mike Parrow, click here.