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Lesbian wrestler Mercedes Martinez changed the sport forever

I know it’s inspiring for a lot of queer wrestling fans like me to see that you really belong to yourself. What made you feel like you finally came out publicly in 2019?

Everyone knew; I just never wanted it to be the focus of my career. You used to not be able to be as open as you wanted because your bookings could be taken away, while now I can be a bit more open and feel safe in the area I am in. The biggest thing is that I need to feel safe for my family. Now, for the past five years, I’ve felt safe to say, “Okay, I’m a wrestler, but let’s push that agenda a little bit more.”

Do you feel like it, since public come outthere was a change in your fan base?

I’ve always had the LGBTQ community behind me, but now that I’m really out there and pushing the agenda more, the fandom and workers have really rallied behind me because now they have a voice and I’m not shy about anything talk while others might be. I like to use my platform for those who don’t feel safe to tell them that we’re in this industry together. My voice is your voice and if you don’t already have it, let me be your voice. If you are comfortable with your own voice, I will help you. It’s definitely a very tight-knit community, and not just on TV, but in the indie scene too, because we’re all here on the same platform and we’re all pushing each other and making sure we’re all comfortable, because That’s all we have.

How was it for you to step up and cut your teeth at a time when women’s wrestling was so sexualized?

It was very hard to be honest. I’m not a sexualized person at all; I can’t give you that. But I stayed with my line and was very consistent in what I wanted to present. The sexualization probably cost me a lot of bookings and a lot of friends, but it’s ok because if those promoters didn’t believe in my work and they just wanted the sexual aspect, you know what, I wouldn’t want to work for you anyway. i am here to wrestle

I never hid who I was; I just couldn’t say it publicly. I couldn’t say, “Hey, I’m a lesbian wrestler too” because I had to be safe in front of the fans and in the locker rooms. At the independent level you only have yourself and you don’t know how the crowd will react. The company can protect you during the show, but what happens after the show? What happens during the break? Back then you changed with the boys. It was a very open locker room. So do I get a backlash and feel safe around the guys? Some women don’t feel comfortable changing if they think you’re going to attack them, or wrestling-wise if you touch a certain part of their body. So I kept it very private. People knew it, but I didn’t make it a big focus. I kept it very professional. It was tough but now it’s changed a lot where we’re all just comfortable. It does not matter. That should have happened years ago.

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