WWE Ref Shawn Bennett Comes Out

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday October 12, 2021

WWE referee Shawn Bennett observed National Coming Out Day by doing just that, Wrestling Inc. reported.

Bennett took to social media on Oct. 11, making the announcement on Twitter and Instagram, the sports site said.

"Oh yea, I'm gay," Bennett posted on Instagram, along with a photo of himself with a Pride sign made from inflatable letters. "There's the answer to the question I get asked most on social media."

"This should come as little surprise to those that know me, but I've never actually said it publicly before," Bennett added.

The ref went on to give autobiographical details, including how he began his career at the age of 14. "I did my best to suppress any and all homosexual thoughts before and after that for a long time," he recounted, going on to add that he had "tried to live my life" as a heterosexual man by having a relationship with a woman.

"I didn't come to my own full realization about myself until early 20s," Bennett went on to say. "That's when I knew it was the way of life that would make me happy. As cliche as it sounds, I feel I was born this way."

Though he was out to his family and friends, Bennett said he feared for his career if the truth became known in the testosterone-fueled world of sports.

"I was convinced that I would never be successful if people knew I was gay," Bennett wrote. "Those were fears that I made up in my head."

Bennett — who, EWrestling noted, has been with WWE for 13 years — reflected on what a relief it was finally to shed the last vestiges of inauthenticity and publicly come out of the closet.

"This post takes a ton of weight off of my shoulders," he shared. "This post crumbles the wall that I've had up for so long and removes the mask."

"I'm proud of who I am, what I've accomplished, where my life is headed, and my way of life," Bennett added. "Like everyone else, at the end of the day I just want to be happy, to give and receive love, both to myself and others."

Bennett closed out his post by writing that "Representation is important" and encouraging his followers to "Always face your fears" and "chase your dreams."

"Above all, always be yourself," he added. "It's worth it."

Bennett is the latest figure in pro sports to come out. A few weeks ago pro wrestler Rolando Perez, a.k.a. Miami Ice, came out as bisexual. Earlier this year pro baseball player Bryan Ruby came out, as did the NFL's first active pro player, Carl Nassib, who is with the Las Vegas Raiders.

What's more, a record number of out athletes competed at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, making this year's games a "Rainbow Olympics."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.