June is Pride Month globally, and many companies have already begun their celebrations. There are a number of openly gay professional wrestlers.
Even though WWE has more out wrestlers than ever, LGBTQ inclusion hasn’t entered WWE’s programming. An event like the Liv Morgan-Lana angle in December 2019 shows the company’s philosophy.
In recent years, however, Sonya Deville has been in the forefront of efforts to promote LGBTQ inclusion throughout the organization.
Sonya Deville, born Daria Berenato, dated boys much of her youth in New Jersey. It was the norm for her love life, so she never questioned it. Perhaps it wasn’t denial so much as it was ignoring the obvious.
To learn out her sexuality, the future WWE Superstar nearly had to be struck over the head with it. A friend’s mother was ultimately responsible for her coming to terms with her sexual orientation. Even so, she first did not trust it.
Sonya is WWE’s first openly LGBT superstar, having come out as a lesbian on Tough Enough in 2015. Deville uses her renowned position as a WWE Superstar to urge people to embrace their own truth. She’s become a significant figure in the LGBT community, representing the corporation at events like Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD.
This is a rather extensive journey for Sonya. It took some time for her to accept her sexual orientation. She dated males till the age of 18 or 19. Additionally, Deville was producing an independent picture in South Jersey. Sonya played the lead in a lesbian love tale based on a true story. In a way, art paralleled reality, since the lady she cast opposite herself became her partner.
In an interview with CBS New York, Deville highlighted her upbringing in terms of LGBT perception.
“I moved out of my house when I was 17 to pursue martial arts. I moved to South Florida to train with the best fight team, American Top Team. So, I was living on my own, and that’s when I got to really explore and kind of do my own thing. One day one of my best friends’ mom was down in South Florida, and she was like, “Daria, I think you’re gay.” And that was the first time I ever heard anybody kind of say those words to me. And I was like, “Whoa, I think she’s right.”
Deville maintained her identity wherever feasible. In 2018, at WrestleMania 34, she wore a rainbow-clad attire, which launched a trend of trendy references to the LGBTQ community, and her appearance on Total Divas broadcasted a positive depiction of same-sex partnerships into homes throughout the country.
She expressed recently on WWE The Bump about more individuals in the wrestling profession who come out and tell their tales, the more it would push the fans and those who watch them to do the same. She also emphasized that there is no right or wrong way to reveal one’s sexual orientation.
“Everyone has a different way of doing that and there is no right and there is no wrong. And I don’t want people to think that because I decide to put my life out there that they necessarily had to do it with theirs.”
Sonya Deville confirmed that she would participate in this year’s Los Angeles Pride Parade. In 1970, the Los Angeles Pride Festival and March was the world’s first officially sanctioned “gay” parade. It is now an annual event and one of the world’s biggest pride celebrations. The parade and festival, held every year during Pride Month in Los Angeles, CA, is a celebration of the many histories and cultures of the LGBTQ+ community. The event also features a large number of celebrities and musical acts. The LA Pride Parade will be place on June 12, 2022.
Even though WWE has practically cut the number of out LGBTQ pro wrestlers on its roster in half over the course of the past year, Sonya Deville’s openness and joy while expressing her identity is a large part of the reason why she continues to campaign for “organic” LGBTQ on-screen representation.
On the other hand, she does not want WWE’s first serious step into LGBTQ narrative to be stereotyped as only love tales. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals are far more than their romantic connections, but the vast majority of conversations surrounding the introduction of LGBTQ characters continue to focus entirely on that, including several tone-deaf instances from WWE’s history. Deville has expressed his desire for that wider reality to be conveyed.
With performers like Sonya Deville, AEW’s Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm upfront about their sexuality, as well as prominent members of the LGBTQ community like Nyla Rose and Sonny Kiss, it’s fair to say that the wrestling business has gone a long way in terms of acceptance.