Wrestling fans often like to reminisce about how awesome everything was back in the Attitude Era, but one thing that was decidedly uncool was how pro wrestling made LGBTQ wrestlers stay in the closet while using kayfabe gay romance storylines for shock value or having a wrestler "play gay" to draw heat. In fact, when Goldust turned face, WWE made a big deal out of announcing his heterosexuality, while Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo pretended to marry in 2002, then stopped the ceremony to say "just kidding, ha ha, we’re not gay, either."

Ironically — or perhaps in an act of atonement — both Dustin Rhodes and Billy Gunn now work for AEW, which is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly organizations in all of professional sports. As the fabulous Sonny Kiss said "The Sessions with Renee Paquette," "I think that it’s awesome AEW allows all it’s LGBTQ talent to be themselves and allows everyone in the company to embrace that." WWE, too, has come a long way since the bad old days, although it’s interesting to note that three of the four NXT wrestlers featured in a 2021 Pride Month shoutout – namely Toni Storm, Mercedes Martinez, and Jake Atlas — would soon depart that company for AEW. It is not just the big companies that are becoming increasingly inclusive, though. From the indies to GCW to NJPW, WWE and AEW, here are some of wrestling’s biggest LGBTQ stars.