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Documentary Trailer Review: “Out In the Ring” – A Look At the Fabulously Gay World of Professional Wrestling


We're a fabulous people, we gays. We love costumes, we love sexy men, and we love choreographed performances with musical numbers. Which is why it shouldn't come as a surprise that many gays grew up loving the world of professional wrestling. We know it's as fake as our summer romances, but, at the same time, we revel in the commitment to the spectacle nonetheless. And outside the world of the big-time professional wrestling (think WWE, etc.), the smaller alt-world of professional wrestling is exploding with Queer performers. That world is now being pinned in the upcoming documentary Out In the Ring, the directorial feature debut of Ryan Bruce Levey.

The documentary explores the deeply Queer history that has helped to build the artform over the last century. We see the deep ties between wrestling and drag culture, and how pushing the bounds of fashion expectations in regards to gender has been core to what the two stand for. And that all comes down to the fact that wrestlers are, above all else, artists. They're athletes, of COURSE, but their athleticism is decidedly an artform. "Wrestlers are artists. It's about choreography, and timing, and acting. It's all these artforms in one," one wrestler says on the trailer.

If you're even a casual follower of the world of wrestling, you know that gay characters and storylines have always been some of the most entertaining and are consistently some of the biggest fan favorites. Characters like Gorgeous George (George Raymond Wagner) who was a Queer wrestling character all the way back in the 1940s.

Out In the Ring also pays tribute to the great Queer wrestlers who could have been arrested for who they were at the time they were performing. "In the early days Pat Patterson's career, being homosexual was illegal and it was considered a mental illness," one contributor says. Adding another, "It sucks that it had to happen, but the people that kept fighting and fighting and fighting, like... they're the reasons we're now what we are now."

Like so many individual sports, wrestling is one of the great examples of a way Queer people can really let go of inhibitions and exist just as they are. I remember my first boyfriend telling me that's why there were so many gay swimmers in college: they get to just rely on themselves because for many of them, they've always had to rely on themselves, on their solitude. The documentary echoes this at times. "The ring is the only place I actually get to be who I am," one wrestler says. It's also why some of the new era of Queer wrestlers are incorporating this island mentality into their onstage personal. Wrestlers like Solo Darling from the Bronx. Solo Darling came out as pansexual in 2020, and her name is giving major strong, independent woman vibes; I'm here for it.

Out In the Ring brings together an unprecedented amount of archival pictures, interviews, and recordings, that help to explore the impacts not just of homophobia in wrestling, but also the profound impacts of racism and gender identity, as well. Like so much of American society for the last century, the history is deep with a lot of hate, but how that hate was tackled, flipped, and slammed into the mats of history is also why the next generation of Queer wrestlers is going to be even stronger than we could have ever dreamed.

Out In the Ring premieres this Friday, June 3rd, at Canada's Inside Out Film Festival. If you're in the area, tickets can be bought here. And in the meantime, here is the trailer:

First trailer: OUT IN THE RING from Ryan Bruce Levey on Vimeo.

Cybersocket: Plug In. Get Off. Questions? Comments? Email us at [email protected].

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