Living in Orlando, Florida, Mike Parrow is a pro wrestler and he only recently spoke out about his sexual orientation.
The 34-year-old only revealed his secret to those close to him when he was 30. At the same time, he was also meeting and falling for his soon to be husband.
His height and his weight ensure that Mike looks like a person no one should mess with. His physical appearance made it easy for him to hide the issues he was struggling with internally like suicidal thoughts and the efforts to repress his own sexuality.
Early days and the move to Florida
Originally from Troy, New York State, Parrow and his two siblings had a happy childhood with their mother who was a teacher and their father who was a cop. He was good at academics and was thinking of a career in law when some of his friends from uni suggested that he try out wrestling professionally as it was something he had always been passionate about.
Parrow’s heart wanted to give this dream of his a shot. He realized that he could always go back to law school and to the surprise of his family, he gathered his things and headed out to the 3D Academy in Kissimmee, Florida, for a one year course in wrestling.
He doesn’t like to lose
Parrow joined the course in 2009 but it was no smooth sailing. It was difficult and required a lot of effort. Weighing only 330 lbs when he started out, he had it harder than the others. But the Academy was good and each student was given the help they needed to be able to enter the ring.
It was physically challenging but Parrow loved every moment. He has admitted that he is competitive to an extreme and his time at the Academy only made him more so. He hated the idea of failing and this made him even more determined that he would see that one year though.
Thanks to his determination and hard work, he was able to land matches in independent wrestling rings. Now he wrestles all over the US, usually working with Evolve and MLW.
The fight with his sexual orientation
While moving to Florida and deciding to embark on a wrestling career seemed like the best choices, other aspects of his life were not so clear.
According to Parrow himself, he had always been aware of his sexuality. He had no doubts that he was gay. But his little town in NY offered no opportunities for an LGBTQ+ community to flourish. All he ever saw gay men were on TV and this led him to believe that all gay men were feminine and girly. And since he was not like that, he couldn’t be gay.
At some point, he even considered that being gay was a choice just like any other. He did his best to push that part of himself away. He even went to the extent of going out with girls. It seemed to work when he was young but as the years passed, he was unable to establish an emotional bond with the women he dated.
One step forward, two steps back
When he moved to a new city, Parrow thought that he’d finally have the chance to learn about his sexuality. However, things didn’t work out like he’d hoped they would.
Unfortunately, Parrow’s first experience with the gay community was learning that they could be unkind and cruel. He was shamed for his masculine looks and his muscular build and this sent him straight back to square one. Mike gave up and threw all his concentration into building a wrestling career. He was successful but his sexuality never left his thoughts. He was constantly scared that people would learn about his sexuality and that it would end his career if they did.
Struggling with depression
His situation gradually worsened as depression set in. At one point, Parrow was unable to leave his bed. He felt like no one else knew the real person behind his public persona and this pushed him away from those who cared for him. A constant anger burned inside him and he often lashed out, scaring those around him. He was even ready to kill himself when a phone call from a friend changed his mind.
Parrow tried conversion therapy and being forced to date girls did absolutely nothing for him. When he finally saw a psychiatrist, he was told that his only problem was the depression he was in because he couldn’t accept his sexuality. But he continued to think that being gay was something that could be fixed.
And at that time, he met the man he is now going to marry.
A star-crossed meeting
One night when Parrow was playing pool at a bar with friends, he saw Morgan alone at the bar. He knew that he felt something but he did not speak to him that night. A few days after that, he saw him at a store but he still couldn’t work up the courage to take the first step.
Then, Morgan walked into the bar/restaurant he was working in at the time with his aunt and then they got to talking. They proceeded to go on the worst first date ever and Parrow informed Morgan that he would only ever be able to see him in secret. Soon enough, Morgan broke up with him and Parrow realized that he’d made a huge mistake.
Be who you are
Parrow started telling himself that he needed to stop hiding from the world. He reached out to Morgan and asked to start over, for real this time. They took it to step by step and things looked brighter. Parrow slowly started telling the people close to him that he was gay. Initially, they were surprised because he didn’t look like a stereotypical gay man but they gradually accepted him.
Telling his family
This was the part that terrified him the most. But all his fears proved to be unfounded as his family as they only offered him their love and support. His father told him that he’d always known and his mother simply said that God doesn’t make mistakes.
Responses from the wrestling world
Four and a half years later, Parrow takes pride in being with the man he fell in love with. His career is going well and he didn’t have to deal with the homophobia he was sure he’d face. Whenever it feels like someone might not be comfortable wrestling with him, Parrow goes up to them and tries to talk it out. If people say the wrong things in the locker room, he is quick to take it up with them. He answers any and all questions that are asked of him.
The shooting at Pulse
The shooting in the Pulse bar in 2016 had a major impact on Parrow. Some of the people who had helped Parrow come out died in that tragedy. One of them, a girl, had told him that he needed to get over his fear and start helping others. He needed to show everyone that being gay couldn’t be fit into a stereotype. He now wears the number 49 to commemorate the 49 people who were shot that day and does his best every day to be the best role model that he can be.