Mercedes Martinez Discusses Struggles Of Being A Gay Wrestler

Mercedes Martinez

AEW star Mercedes Martinez has opened up about her experiences of being a gay pro wrestler, recalling that she once had to hide her true identity to get ahead.

In modern times, most pro wrestling companies celebrate Pride Month every year. However, this was not always the case. Speaking on Busted Open Radio, ROH Women’s world Champion Mercedes Martinez has discussed finding her identity in wrestling and taking a long time to become comfortable with who she is.

“It took a really long time, to be honest. It was hard for me at first, coming from where I was trained from and hiding who I truly was. It was always ‘Hey, I want to wrestle,’ but I couldn’t show myself in the light.

“In that era, it was the whole T&A aspect of wrestling, it was the Divas. I was always told ‘You have to do that to actually make it in this business.’ I kept myself very reserved, very quiet, very shy and kept myself hidden. It’s that old adage of ‘Keep your ears open and your mouth shut.’ If you want to get far in this business, that’s what you have to do.”

However, Mercedes Martinez said she was inspired to be herself by former WWE Women’s Champion Jazz.

“That’s when I met Jazz. She came to my school with Jason Knight, and she was one of the first people that kind of said ‘You have to be who you are. You are a diamond in the rough. You are that person that’s going to trailblaze. You are that person that’s going to make a difference. Don’t let anybody tell you any differently about who you want to be, because there’s a sense of people molding you. People are always going to try to mold you, but you really have to stick to your guns and your true mission.’ And that’s what I did.”

Martinez went on to speak about her first tryout with WWE and realising she didn’t want to sign with the company at that time, instead going on to work with independent promotions like SHIMMER. However, she did eventually join WWE in early 2020 but was released in August of 2021.

“I think it took until my first tryout with WWE when I realized ‘WWE is not where I want to be right now. That was around 2007, and that’s where SHIMMER started. I knew at that time, that WWE was not for me, because their mission wasn’t my mission. It was the Divas Era, they wanted to mold you into the cookie-cutter type female. And that’s not what I’m about. I’m about being true to who I am, what I know what I can do and it was always just women’s wrestling.”

Mercedes Martinez also looked back on her experience being a lesbian in pro wrestling, saying she had to hide that part of her identity early in her career as it was seen as “taboo” to be openly out. these days, though, she is open about who she is and won’t let anybody tell her different.

“Being in this business, you couldn’t be openly out. I’m a lesbian, and I couldn’t be that person. I had to hide that part of me because the locker room was very taboo. The media was ‘No, you can’t do this.’ It came to the point in my career that I had to hide that because for me to advance, you can’t put that out there for fear of safety for me and my family, because that was not socially acceptable in all realms of life. So it was a very humbling experience.

“But now being here, 41 years going on 42 years old, I know who I am. And ain’t nobody going to tell me any different.”

H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the above transcription.