Pro wrestler Jake Atlas (real name Kenny Marquez) was named 2017’s Southern California Rookie of the Year, and he celebrated the honor by coming out. Now, he might be the latest openly gay wrestler to join the WWE, following in the footsteps of Darren Young.
Wrestling news site SoCal Underground reports that Atlas has signed with the company and will “join the global wrestling juggernaut’s performance center in January 2020.”
According to OutSports, he was previously named a “brand ambassador” for the company “after appearing on a WWE-themed episode of Undercover Boss: Celebrity Edition last year. He proclaimed his goal to be ’the first openly gay WWE world champion’ during the program.”
As NewNowNext previously reported, the 24-year-old grew up in L.A. watching Mexican lucha libre and the WWF, but he had a tough time coping with his sexuality. He even admitted to bullying other boys he liked.
“I knew that being gay was something that wouldn’t be accepted in my family,” he told Gay Star News in 2018. “In the sixth grade, I met a boy who would go on to be the catalyst of my eventual self-acceptance.”
He eventually came out to his family in 2010, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing after that: “There were tears, silence, negligence and hate cast all over my small family for months and years to come. Being openly gay is still something I struggle sharing with my mom.”
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“Growing up, I had instances of anxiety,” Atlas told SoCal Uncensored. “I would always have anxiety attacks and there were times where I would lose my breath.” Being sidelined “kind of triggered it for me, [feeling like] my life was over at that point.”
“You’re going to watch me be a wrestler because I’m good, not because I am gay,” he added. “That’s the message I want to send to everyone who’s struggling with the same thing.”