When 41-year-old wrestler Parrow first watched “OUT IN THE RING,” he had no clue what to expect. He was interviewed by director Ry Levey to tell his story as being one of the first openly gay professional wrestlers, but those recordings were now years ago. And on top of that, he never heard the conversations that Levey had with his colleagues about him for the documentary.
It didn’t even take until the end of the film for Parrow to know that he was happy with how it was put together. His first time seeing the documentary was at the Montreal Fantasia Film Festival in 2022. Sonny Kiss, who is also part of the documentary, sat beside him to watch a special screening of the film.
“We turned to each other halfway through the film and were like ‘This is amazing. This is art,’” Parrow recalled in an interview with POST Wrestling. “I started crying halfway through it. It brought back emotions. I was like, ‘This needs to be seen.’”
Parrow was one of the many wrestlers who had their story told as part of “OUT IN THE RING,” a documentary on LGBTQIA+ wrestlers and representation in wrestling. The movie, which makes its television premiere on Fuse and Fuse+ on November 15th, takes a look at current and historical examples of LGBTQIA+ wrestlers.
Parrow came out in late 2017, around the time that production for the documentary started up. He mentioned being hesitant about participating in an interview for the documentary at first. He hadn’t done much media about coming out and being a gay wrestler, and he was worried that he would not properly represent a community that he was still learning about at the time. However, the way that Levey handled the documentary made him gain confidence in the project.
“He wanted to know about me and how I felt,” he said. “And I think that was different than anybody else that was asking the questions. That makes me feel honored for being chosen [for this documentary].”
Parrow, along with talents Effy, Dani Jordyn, Charlie Morgan, and Dark Sheik are other examples of modern wrestlers covered in the documentary. When taking a look at the past, major examples include Susan “Tex” Green — who was interviewed for the documentary — and Pat Patterson, who passed away in 2020.
“OUT IN THE RING” director Ry Levey says that it would have been great to have Patterson tell his story in the documentary, although Patterson’s health struggles at the time of the film’s production made him decide against interviewing him.
“It would have been unfair at the point we were filming in 2017 to put him on camera and risk embarrassing him,” Levey said to POST Wrestling. “I do wish Pat [Patterson] would have been able to be on camera and tell his story. And I also wish Pat was still here to really share in this glory. To see what he paved the way for, in a lot of ways.”
“OUT IN THE RING” represents many different things for LGBTQIA+ people in wrestling. Levey sees the documentary as proof that wrestling is more interlinked with LGTBQIA+ culture than some might believe.
“Wrestling is everything that a drag show is,” Levey said. “It’s camp, it’s sequins, it’s spandex, it’s good versus evil … I would like to see the larger queer community or LGBTQIA+ community kind of gravitate towards it because it actually is the perfect sporting theatre medium and it ticks a lot of boxes for what a lot of the community has said they wanted for entertainment.”
For Parrow, the documentary is an example of how LGBTQIA+ people need to be better represented in wrestling, even after what he described in the film as a “renaissance” period for the industry.
“We have no queer storylines on television. WWE doesn’t have an openly gay man on the roster as a wrestler. How are you supposed to bring in fans? How are you supposed to do LGBTQ storylines? And a lot of it is because there’s no LGTBQ writers backstage. There’s no LGTBQ producers backstage being like ‘Hey, this is how we write this.’”
Parrow has been a part of GCW’s “Effy’s Big Gay Brunch” series of events, which started in 2020 and ran its seventh event just last month. He takes pride in being part of these shows and the environment that it has created not just for fans that consume wrestling, but also for wrestlers themselves.
“Every time I enter that locker room, I get extremely emotional,” said Parrow about Effy’s Big Gay Brunch events. “Because I look around the room and I see everybody comfortable, laughing, joking. I don’t think people know what it’s like to walk in a locker room and be the only queer person. That feeling of fear, that feeling of alienation, that feeling of ‘who’s judging me, what’s going to be said, how am I going to handle this situation.’
Over the course of “OUT IN THE RING’s” production time period, dozens of wrestlers have come out to represent their true selves. Brian C. Bell, a writer for Outsports — a publication that covers the intersection of the LGBTQIA+ community and sports — expanded their annual “Queer Wrestling Index” ranking from 100 wrestlers to 200 in 2021, citing the growth and evolution of the community in wrestling.
The documentary includes a quick flash at the end of endless out wrestlers who are currently competing. Parrow said that the amount of out wrestlers nowadays calls for another documentary to be made someday.
“I would love to see a follow-up documentary. We have so many talented queer athletes. When I mean talent, they’re super talented and gifted. And I just sit there like ‘I have none of that,’” he mentioned with a chuckle.