A competitor on the independent wrestling circuit throughout the US, pro-wrestler Mike Parrow, 34, struggled with being gay for years. Now he's boldly speaking up, owning who he is, and seeking to inspire others to do the same.
The best part? Parrow says he owes his newly found self acceptance to conversion therapy—a practice that condemns homosexuality and attempts to convert an individual's sexual orientation through psychological and spiritual means.
In an interview with Gay Star News, Parrow explained the circumstances he grew up in:
I’ve always known I’m gay. That was never a question in my mind. But growing up, I went to Catholic school my whole life. My mom’s a Sunday school teacher. I came from a small town in upstate New York. It didn’t have a flourishing gay community.
Twitter was all love and acceptance:
Reflecting on his thought process early on, Parrow continued in the interview:
The only exposure I saw of any gay culture was extremely effeminate, and that was what was on TV. I’m not like Jack on ‘Will and Grace,’ so I’m not gay. So I tried to hide it.
What a lovely guy... you've wasted enough time life's for living grab it with both hands 💪— Julieann Thompson (@julsthompo28) January 19, 2018
Eventually Parrow's struggle with his sexuality became so desperate he decided to try conversion therapy. It was there that he had something of an epiphany:
It was the first time I heard people had the same feelings that I did. Being there, I realized I am gay and that is not going to change. Because one of [conversion therapy’s] premises is that it’s a choice. It’s not a choice. You’re born this way. So right there, that’s a flawed philosophy.
Parrow says only why conversion therapy didn't work for him, and refuses to speak for others and discredit it altogether—a choice some disagree with:
Why are you still giving space to “gay conversion therapy”? It’s not a thing!— Eugenio Ceriello (@EugenioCeriello) January 19, 2018
Since he came out, Parrow says his life has only gotten better, that his fears were largely unfounded, and that mostly people just have questions:
I’ve found that mostly, people are just curious because nobody has ever sat them down, so they have questions. Let them ask questions because you need to ask them too.
Now, Parrow is hoping to inspire others—especially athletes—to be who they are without fear:
I don’t want that 14-year-old to think he’s alone. I want that 14-year-old to be successful, to play for the NFL, to play sports. I don’t want them to hold themselves back because of hate.