Drag and wrestling have much more in common than you might think, says queer wrestler EFFY

Gay wrestler EFFY kneels in the wrestling ring as he fights his opponent, who has been flipped upside down

Wrestling might be a display of dominance, aggression, brawling and blood, and drag a celebration of gender-f**kery and queer excellence. But dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find the two have a lot more in common than you originally thought.

Wrestling has always been a show complete with heroes, villains, outlandish storylines, comedy, fantastic costumes and electric energy – a lot like drag. Both offer a platform for performers to express their characters, and even their own LGBTQ+ identity. And that’s something queer wrestler EFFY is here for. 

EFFY sees a lot of what he experiences in the ring reflected in the world of drag, especially with the rise of Drag Race

“RuPaul has shifted that with the lip-sync-for-your-life being a head-to-head, and you see these girls look like they’re about to snatch one another’s wigs and rip each other apart,” he tells PinkNews. 

“Then, afterwards, they can kiki, kiss, love and go back to just celebrating queer excellence.”

EFFY, real name Taylor Gibson, says that wrestling rivalries are the same as those in drag – all for show.

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Once, after he’d fought his “rival” Billy Dixon at a show, the two were outside “sharing a smoke”.

“One of the fans came, and she said: ‘Oh my goodness, this is so good to see,'” he explains.

“We had just fought each other … we’re supposed to have a feud. And she said: ‘No, no, I was so worried you guys didn’t like each other after that. You both seem so nice that I just want to make sure things were OK.'”

He continued: “I think the name of the game is selling like we are in a battle, we are coming. But much like those drag queens, when the battle is done and when that’s over, we’re not holding grudges. We’re not sneaking around each other and stealing each other’s costumes.” 

Gay wrestler EFFY stands triumphantly in the wrestling ring with his jacket on the ground in front of him as someone shouts behind him
EFFY is creating a space where other LGBTQ+ wrestlers, like him, can thrive. (Tony Knox)

While wrestling has all the glitz and glamour of drag, what it lacked for decades was prominent LGBTQ+ representation. 

For a long time, no major wrestling federation had any openly queer talents. As with other sports, some stars came out publically after they left the ring and their careers were over, such as WWE legend Pat Patterson

Now, a host of LGBTQ+ people have stepped into the ring, joining both the independent scene and household wrestling brands. Big stars include Anthony BowensJake AtlasSonya DeVilleNyla Rose – and EFFY. 

He wears his queerness proudly, arriving in spandex booty shorts, fishnets and boots, and prancing around the ring with rainbow streamers fluttering around him.

“The privileges I have, of being a particularly tall, white American male with a loud mouth and a college degree, aren’t lost to me,” he says. 

EFFY sees himself as a “shield” for other queer people without those privileges

“To stand in front of people, and they can sort of see, ‘Well, that’s a big, gay man, but he also doesn’t seem concerned with anybody else’s problems’, I like being that shield. 

“I like being at the front of the jungle party with the machete. I like pushing people’s buttons and seeing what you can get them to do. It’s very much in the style of Jackass or an [comedian] Eric Andre or something where you’re really f**king with public perception.”

Gay wrestler EFFY wears a pink studded jacket, fishnets and black shorts as he stands before a crowd of wrestling fans
EFFY says showcasing LGBTQ+ talent is “what the WWE should have been doing” ages ago. (Tony Knox)

EFFY has been hosting Big Gay Brunches to highlight LGBTQ+ wrestling talent in a loud and proud celebration showcase from start to finish. British fans will soon get to experience the event when it storms into Liverpool on Friday (12 May). 

He says it’s a magical way to highlight characters who’ve been “suppressed by what our current system is [by putting them in a] space where they can be seen and they can flourish on their own”.

He adds: “This is huge and what the WWE should have been doing. The scene could use it… I’m really pumped that I’ve been able to turn me poking this stupid carnival industry with a stick into something that is exciting for people, bringing people in who never came to wrestling, and giving a new perspective to us going: ‘We know what wrestling is, we’re very good at wrestling. Here’s what we think it should look like.’”