A professional wrestler has told young LGBT athletes their team will "support you".
Mike Parrow – an openly gay wrestler – struggled for years to hide his sexuality in the masculine career he decided to pursue and even paid for his own conversion therapy.
But Parrow was able to accept who he truly is and last month celebrated his five-year anniversary with partner Morgan Cole – who are set to be married this year – and now he has told young LGBT athletes that their sexuality has nothing to do with “athletic ability”.
He told the Washington Blade: “Your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability. I thought my teammates wouldn’t accept me and I was wrong. Your team will support you.
“I came from the sports world of a football locker room where I was an alpha male. The wrestlers at the academy were not of the same sports background.
“I wasn’t prepared for all the different personalities. I knew I was gay, but I didn’t want to be.
“I was in a new town and I didn’t want people to know. I was scared.”
Parrow went on to say that the discrimination and attitudes of the gay culture forced him further into the closet when he started dating.
“I was this weird unicorn because I wasn’t part of the culture. The people I met on dating apps were rude, mean and cruel,” he added.
“I was called closet case, fat, ugly and was shamed for my masculinity. I was terrified, and it pushed me farther into the closet.
“A lot of misconceptions can be talked out, but I wasn’t meeting people who wanted to talk. We make villains when we don’t need to make villains.”
Parrow also said that his parents both accepted him and are proud of him, but admitted he cannot understand why some parents cannot accept their child.
He said: “My parents are proud of me and I have been lucky to have had a great experience with them.
“I will never understand a parent not accepting their child. Your child is yours, everything else is borrowed.”