“I Married an Infant Arachnid” Professional Wrestler Tommy “The SpiderBaby” Saturday
You have my solemn word as a bad guy professional wrestler that the story I am about to tell you is absotively, posilutely true.
After I earned my first title—the Northern Lights Wrestling Midwest Heavyweight Championship—on August 19, 2007, I named the belt Ramon Wladziu Furter Clemont. Then, still dripping with the sweet sweat of salty victory, I bounded upon the Lisa Marie II and took the red eye to Vancouver where a Unitarian minister with an antiquated crew cut and an absolutely fetching underbite performed an emergency marriage ceremony.
Thus, the Championship is no mere fashion accessory to The SpiderBaby—Ramon is my life partner.
Bringing Ramon into my life was the culmination of a journey—a grand conniving, really—that was tangled, web-like, to my first match. See, I came out nationally as a gay homosexual wrestler dood just before that historic, histrionic event. (Yes, I won, since you ask.) Of course, I began my wrestling career as a heel, or bad guy, which offended the more politically correct members of our dysfunctional GLBT tribe (who were already offended anyway—I know that because they’re always offended by something). They claimed I was trading on my gender identity within the not-altogether-gay-friendly world of professional wrestling. I guess that’d make me an Aunt Tom, sho’ nuff. Other cynics called me a glory-grabber whose only concern was cheap publicity. And while it’s true that I managed the puffery as closely as I could, my motives were simply this: as someone who grew up loving professional wrestling and hating being gay, I hoped to connect to ambivelent gay youth. And that’s all I wanted. And since becoming champion, I have.
Okay, okay: so I had one teensy, weensy ulterior motive—my personal Gay Agenda, one might say—but we’ll explore that later.
As for my critics, they reasoned that many wrestling fans don’t knowingly know any GLBT folk at all, and my hitting the fans over their collective head with any image that was more stereotype than archetype, that was anything short of a tie-sporting, Volvo-driving, Young Gay Professional with a life partner, a white picket fence, a dog, a cat, and 2.2 adopted Somali babies would do irreparable harm to our collective image.
After I came out, a lot of publicity peoples swirled around me like…well, like publicity peoples swirling around an out gay pro wrestler, and I hit ‘em with a consistent message: it’s okay to boo me for what I do, but it’s not okay to boo me because of who I am. And surprising me not at all, the fans got it. They understood that when in engaged in what they called cheating—I prefer the term, “boldly reinterpreting the rules”—they made their displeasure known. But when I engaged in my rather elaborate (read: bright ‘n’ shiny) ring entrance, they cheered.
My in-ring colleagues have been generally supportive of my outness. Pro wrestling locker rooms are, as one might guess, immovable bastions of politically incorrect thought and feeling, but I took my message there, as well. Some years ago, within the locker room, a college-age colleague was verbally beating himself up after performing in a match that didn’t quite meet the standard he’d set for himself. “That match sucked!” he lamented with all the bitter vehemence of a Vietnamese widow, not talking to the dozen wrestlers all around him. “It was really gay!”
An awkward pall of heavy silence fell unevenly on the locker room, descending like an insult tendered within an Old West saloon. All eyes fell on me, then moved to him. “Um,” the offending wrestler began, “sorry, SpiderBaby. Um—is it okay that I said that?”
I gestured toward a black wrestler, collateral damage fer sherzies. I asked the first wrestler: “Would you consider, for even one pico-second, saying, ‘That match sucked. It was really African American’…and then asking our associate here if it was okay to say that?”
A river of relieved laughter washed over the Augean locker room, but I’d made my point. I never again heard that particular wrestler use terminology denigrating homosexuality. Instead, he became a committed racist.
Kidding. About that last part, I’m just…I’m…ahhh, nevermind. Sometimes the bad guy muscles just flex themselves.
The media is another element that hasn’t quite known how to handle me (errr…so to speak). More than once, I encountered some chronicler of popular culture who was absolutely crestfallen that I hadn’t been hauled kicking and screeching into the shower room and beaten within an inch of my rainbow-stained life by unreasoning homophobes.
One photographer in particular was adamant: “What’s the story?” he wailed to the Heavens, overtly sorrowing that his feather-boa-ensnared bruiser of a subject had been, y’know, accepted by his colleagues. “What’s the story? What’s the story?”
“Crikes, I don’t know,” I growled. “I kiss guys, and I wrestle. That’s the story!”
I realize that, despite the promises we’ve made to each other on that magical August sunset, in front of Sasquatch and everyone, Ramon will one day leave me for another. An Armada of grunting and groaning suitors serenade Ramon on a regular basis. Where more traditional woo-pitchers come armed with boxes of chocolates and bunches of flowers, Ramon is tempted with gaggles of body slams and circles of submission holds. But I won’t lament when Ramon is wrapped ‘round the salty bellah-chub of another wrestler, because Ramon has helped me realize my personal Gay Agenda: helping gay youth has been nice, true, but my main goal in becoming champion is to be able to write for Lavender Magazine.
No, really. I mean, would I lie to you?