After All Elite Wrestling‘s Las Vegas press conference/pool party to announce tickets and participants for their upcoming Double or Nothing PPV, there was a lot of discussion about the social implications for the wrestling community of AEW hiring transgender wrestler Nyla Rose and proudly, flamboyantly gay wrestler Sonny Kiss. In a new interview with Wrestling Inc that’s out today, Sonny Kiss had plenty to say about how his identity relates to his wrestling, and how he doesn’t see what AEW is doing as simply “pushing an agenda.”
Kiss started out by talking about how his self-presentation reminds people of other wrestlers, who he clearly respects, but for him it’s not an act.
A lot of people compare me to super-awesome, great, flamboyant wrestlers – Goldust, Rico and Velveteen Dream. But little do they know, I’m actually authentic version of these feminine characters. They do a great job at it and I love them all, but at the same time, Sonny Kiss is authentic. I’m just a guy who is feminine, obviously, it’s very apparent. But at the same time, I’m just a wrestler and I’m not a ‘gimmick.’ I’m just this flamboyant, athletic, flipping dude…dude or dudette, however you see it because I’m very ambiguous with my sexuality and gender. I call myself a male but I identify as gender-neutral to the public.
He also emotionally discussed how much it means to him to have young LGBTQ fans looking up to him as a role model:
I trip up on words trying to find the right words for it, but it’s just amazing. It feels so good. I literally wanted this my entire life and I never had that representation growing up. Finally getting to be that is like wow! It’s a beautiful thing and I still can’t find the right words for it.
Already used to paying his dues as an indie wrestler, Sonny Kiss is clearly accustomed to dealing with fans (and family members, sadly) who have a problem with his identity, and he’s not looking to fight when he approaches such people.
I do it with respect because you can’t go an eye for an eye. We would all just be blind. You have to try to understand and not mischaracterize other people because just because they’re mischaracterizing you doesn’t mean you have to mischaracterize them. My father and brother are not necessarily too keen on me being the way I am….So you have to understand that this is just how people are and you have to try to get them to understand you without making it a fight. You have to get them to understand you with compassion and with educating them so they won’t be so ignorant. At least if they’re not gonna believe in what you believe in, they’ll at least have the solution to what’s really going in.
The way that Sonny sees it, AEW doesn’t have an agenda to change the minds of people who don’t like LGBTQ identities in their wrestling, but is more interested in reaching out to audiences who benefit from seeing more diverse performers.
I think that’s what AEW is trying to do and not push some ‘agenda.’ I know some people are thinking that and it’s really ridiculous…. Let me also make a disclaimer that AEW, or myself or Nyla is not trying to change anyone’s idea or viewpoint of how life should be for them. We’re not trying to push anything down anyone’s throat. We’re just giving people who don’t have representation a role model and someone to look up to. We just want to coexist comfortably, and what that means is that I don’t want to change your viewpoint. I just want you to respect me the same way you would want me to respect your opinion.
Sadly, nothing he can say is going to change the minds of people who don’t like him or Nyla Rose because of who they are. Fortunately, with AEW having their back, they’re changing the landscape of pro wrestling whether their haters like it or not.