Last week there was a reckoning in pro wrestling, as victims of sexual misconduct and sexual assault stepped forward on several platforms to name the crimes and creeps they have endured for years in the pro wrestling context. While I’ve generally ignored mainstream pro wrestling for a couple of decades, for a number of reasons, I follow a few wrestlers outside of the homoerotic wrestling context, and more than a few wrestlers that straddle both worlds. Based on what I’ve read, most of the recently disclosed creepiness was perpetrated by men against women, but I’ve seen more than a few indictments of same sex assault and harassment. I don’t believe that I’m qualified or informed sufficiently to comment directly, but it does draw my attention to my lane on the road, namely wrestling produced for gay eyes.
As I’ve documented extensively on this blog, I found wrestling inherently erotic from pretty much the first time I can remember seeing it. Clearly, I’m not alone. Vintage gay beefcake pin-up boys were often portrayed grappling, perhaps as cover for the explicit tension of seeing two nearly naked men all over each other. But for me, it’s not just cover. I have access to a world of homoerotic porn today, but what seriously turns me on is homoerotic wrestling (thus, this blog). I understand that there may be companies producing content with an explicit understanding that the wrestling is pretense, that the audience is understood to primarily include gay guys who only feel comfortable getting caught with their jack-off inspiration under the bed/in their downloads if they can attempt to argue that they’re just good ole straight boys into good old straight wrestling and it has nothing to do with their dicks. I’ll come back to that in a moment, but for now, let me say that I’m most interested in self-consciously, undeniably homoerotic wrestling.
I get off on wrestling. Early in my life, it was a secret that I felt ashamed of. Mostly through blogging about it over the past 10 years, I’ve “come out” about it here, and face-to-face with some of my close friends. I still watch “family friendly” pro wrestling sometimes for the nostalgia, for the implicit connection to my young, gay self staying up late on a Saturday night, turning the volume down way, way low, and pounding a few out over the course of watching the likes of Billy Jack Haynes, the Dynamite Kid, and Steve Doll work up a sweat and put their hot bodies to the test in the ring. I realize that the producers of independent pro wrestling probably didn’t envision a whole lot of their audience consuming the product quite the way I did (though I strongly suspect producers have always known and counted on our corner of the fan base). Most of what I enjoy for the carnal enjoyment of it these days is wrestling-for-gay eyes, though, because the erotic text isn’t just the one I bring to the viewing. And in explicitly homoerotic wrestling (explicit or not), the eroticism crosses some topical boundaries (like groping, mismatched erotic desire between the combatants, aggressive kisses, gear being forcibly ripped off of each other) that are, in many ways, the very content of damning stories raised by wrestlers in mainstream pro wrestling about sexual harassment and sexual assault. But in homoerotic wrestling, it’s happening for the homoerotically-oriented wrestling audience, and it’s built on a pretense of consent. The boundary crossing is an erotic fantasy, self-consciously enacted by consenting wrestlers willingly, sometimes eagerly, rather than real-life boundary crossing perpetrated as an unwanted violation of consent.
I’ve never seen a wrestling contract from BG East or W4H or Can-Am or Naked Kombat. I’ve never sat in on labor negotiations or match planning. But as a consumer, I’m assuming a foundation of consent, that the fine, hot hunks that populate my screen have signed up for the sexy situations that they find themselves in. I’d feel like an accomplice to a crime if I actually thought that IRL Bryan Powers was put in restraints in the corner and forced to watch helplessly as his sexy little fuck buddy Liam Ryan was beaten senseless, groped relentlessly, and force-fed Shane McCall’s cock as Shane and BBW made out over top of him, turned on by their cruel domination. If all 4 of the wrestlers didn’t sign-up for, at the very least, the possibility of the erotic turns and double-teaming injustice that played out, then that match would be prosecutable. The pretense of being overpowered and forced into sexually compromised positions only works for my fantasy life if there was consent from the start.
The role of consent in my erotic fantasies has been explicitly on my mind for a long time. I remember rewriting, multiple times, one of my first homoerotic wrestling fiction stories, as I brought into focus the blurred lines of consent. The match was careening headlong into the winner fucking the unwilling loser. But as the words hit the page, I actually felt pity for the loser. Even the imaginary violation of consent was such a buzz kill, and it sent me backward into the narrative, to figure out whether the hottest telling of my fantasy would be established on clarifying the mutually agreed upon stakes, or if the match needed to head a different direction all together.
The idea of consent pops up in other ways in my blogging history. Along the way, I’ve requested, and received, permission from copyright owners to post images from homoerotic wrestling productions. Sometimes they have specific parameters within which they give me permission to post. One producer has specified that I not re-post their images that include nudity, for example. Also, in about 10 years of active blogging, there’s been about a dozen times when someone featured in an image I’ve posted has requested the image be removed. I always do, whether they are the copyright owners or not. I do my best to celebrate homoerotic wrestling and wrestlers, and the underlying consent of the hunks seems essential to demonstrating the relationship that I want to have with the genre, built on consent.
I once pressed Muscle Master Kevin at MDW on the topic of the use of gay slurs. MDW isn’t the only company that’s invoked the themes of humiliating “the sissies,” of course. MMK seemed quite honestly surprised to hear me say that I felt resentment about it. He explained that it comes from his private fans and MDW fans who specifically call for it, who demand it as a crucial component of what gets them off. I had to sit with that for a while, frankly. In the end, I decided that my job isn’t to police anyone else’s erotic fantasies. As long as everyone understands that it’s mutually negotiated, then what does it matter what my critique of internalized homophobia may be? Helpfully, MMK suggested they would do a better job of labeling their products, so that those willingly seeking out homoerotic material featuring anti-gay themes could find what they need, and the rest of us can steer clear. I’m not exactly thrilled that there’s a significant market for gay guys wanting to get off on being gay bashed (at least figuratively), but if everyone involved is consenting, what does it matter what I think?
Maybe #speakout will trickle down to homoerotic wrestling, and we’ll learn that there’s not always fully informed consent operating on camera, or that there’s harassment or assault off camera. I’ve heard rumors, but no first-hand accounts. For the record, I’m only interested in celebrating homoerotic wrestling in which what shows up on camera reflects willing consent (and hopefully eager enthusiasm) of the wrestlers involved. If there are aggressive liplocks, ripped off gear, muscle groping, cock stroking, sexual domination, erotic humiliation, humping, frottage, or full on fucking, then it should be willingly consented to by all parties involved. If it isn’t, I don’t want to watch it or promote it. If there are any hot, naive young hunks who show up on camera not knowing that the whole purpose of the product is for gay guys to jerk off to them, they should be informed. I think there’s a problem with fully informed consent, otherwise, and I don’t want to be crushing on some hot young muscle hunk who’s desperately ashamed and feeling duped to be associated with homoeroticism.
If I go to wrestling-for-gay-eyes sites and see guys feeling each other up, grabbing each other’s crotches, sucking on each other’s nipples, bumping and grinding, stripping naked, making out, getting hard, dick whipping, cock sucking, muscle worshiping, or, best of all, doing all of the above in a ring full of baby oil with a dozen other like minded, fully aroused beefcakes celebrating the homoeroticism of wrestling for kindred spirits to enjoy over and over again on an endless repeat recording, then I fully expect everyone to have willingly consented, and hopefully exuberantly endorsed the production of an erotic wrestling fantasy. If anyone in mainstream pro wrestling, underground wrestling, homoerotic wrestling, or anyone else, thinks that they’re entitled to coerce, manipulate, or physically force anyone else against their will to participate in your erotic fantasy, I think that’s creepy and should be shut down every time. If your fantasy includes coercion, enjoy the creative and inspired artists, athletes, and producers who can indulge that fantasy without anyone being harmed, dehumanized, or criminally assaulted. Otherwise, stay in your own lane, and keep the eroticism out of your wrestling lives.