By Cyd Zeigler. jr.

Discuss this article

For some reason, it is surprising to talk to a professional wrestler who is completely gay friendly. The stereotype of over-masculinized men throwing each other around the ring and bashing each other with fold-up chairs doesn't inspire images of thoughtful, compassionate intellectuals. But for Kevin Nash, a.k.a "Big Sexy," one of the most popular wrestlers over the last 15 years, his gay-friendly attitude comes from education and a love of his family.

As a wrestler, the 7-foot Nash has held the WWF Championship, WWF Intercontinental Championship and WWF Tagteam Championship with the then-World Wrestling Federation. In the late Nineties, he was part of the New World Order, with Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan, which helped the World Championship Wrestling swipe much of the WWF's ratings thunder. Now with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Nash is presently recovering from shoulder surgery, spending a lot of time at his home in Florida with his wife and son.

Outsports talked with Nash about gay characters in wrestling, gay wrestlers, and the "Big Sexy's" gay family members.

Outsports: Professional wrestling has a pretty long history of including gay-acting characters. Why do you think characters like Gorgeous George and Adrian Adonis and Goldust and Lenny and Lodi have been so popular?

Kevin Nash: I think the flamboyancy, because most of those characters are kind of flamboyant characters, I think that wrestling as a whole is such an escapism for a lot of people that it takes it to another level, to escape even further.

OS: When Lenny and Lodi started acting effeminately, GLAAD stepped in and threatened Turner, and Turner pulled the characters. One of the things they said was that characters like Lenny and Lodi are somehow bad for gay people. What do you think of that?

Nash: To me, it's such an exaggeration. It would be one thing if it was a docudrama, and we were trying to depict something that was real life. But it's such a tongue-in-cheek industry as it is. I was one of the writers when that Lenny and Lodi thing was going on. And the storyline was going to be that eventually, because they were both orphans, eventually they were going to find out that they were brothers. That was where the storyline was going. Everyone thought these guys were lovers, because they kept making reference to this closeness that they felt. And I was really offended because Turner succumbed to GLAAD. We were going to do an end-around on everybody. It would have been like, "Who said they were gay? We aren't depicting these guys as gay. We're depicting different scenarios; You're the ones who said they were gay."

OS: So you were trying to turn the stereotype on its head?

Nash: We were trying to. And then they didn't let us do it. Our standards and practices guy, I'm quite sure he was gay. He sat in our booking meetings. We ran everything by him and he knew where the storyline was going, and he didn't have a problem with it. Bob Mould was also in our creative room at the time. And he's gay, and he was one of the writers.

OS: Do you think that kind of thing had a chilling effect on creating gay characters?

Nash: I think so. All of those home improvement shows have the macho guy, the chick, and the gay guy. Every one of them. I was watching one the other night, and the gay guy said, "what's wrong, you don't think I can operate a power tool because I'm … short?" It's OK for him to make a joke of everything, but if the other big macho guy would have said something like that, everyone would have been up in arms. It's such a grey line where you can go to in society. And GLAAD's strong. It's one thing if they go in and slap you on the wrist. They came in and said, "we're going to contact your advertisers." It's hard enough to get advertising on wrestling.

OS: So you had gay people aware of what was going on?

Nash: Absolutely. And I think because there were gay people in the creative meetings, we were very aware of where we could go. I just wondered if there was a gay NASCAR driver, how that guy would get over. If wrestling is "good-ole-boy", there's only one thing more "good-ole-boy" than wrestling, and that's NASCAR. You can't tell me one of those guys isn't gay.

OS: Chris Kanyon has made claims that he was let go by the WWE because he was gay. And I've heard guys like Ric Flair say it was because Chris wasn't a good enough wrestler. Do you have any insight into that?

Nash: I don't know what happened up there. Kanyon is very talented. His persona was never really strong, but as far as fundamentally doing the wrestling, there's really nobody any better. But he just never had that look. He had good size. The bad thing about Chris was that he was best when his face was covered over, when he was Mortus. One of the top creative guys for Vince, Pat Patterson, has been openly gay for years. So I don't think him being gay had much to do with him being released. They probably just didn't like him.

OS: So there are people in professional wrestling who are openly gay or are at least known to be gay?

Nash: Yes.

OS: Does it matter to you if one of the guys you're wrestling around with on a mat is gay?

Nash: It doesn't to me.

OS: Do you have any gay friends or family members?

Nash: Oh yeah. I lost a first cousin to AIDS. I've got members of my family who are gay.

OS: When we talk to athletes in team sports about having gay teammates, we keep hearing they don't want to shower with them. Do you share showers with other wrestlers?

Nash: Yeah, but it's kind of different because you shower as the event goes on. The first match of the night would go out and wrestle, and then they come in and shower. It's kind of a shower-in-shifts thing. When you finish your segment, you go in and shower. It's not like there are 55 guys in football, but there are five or six guys in there.

OS: Does it matter to you if a gay guy is looking at you naked?

Nash: No, as long as he's looking and approving.

OS: You seem very educated and gay-friendly on these issues. Where does that come from?

Nash: Number one is just that, education. I've got gay friends. I've been around gay people my whole life. Intolerance is just ignorance. That's all it is. God forbid if some gay people move into your neighborhood: Curb appeal will be nice and the property value will double. God forbid. [Homophobia] is just prejudice like anything else.

OS: How do you think you'd react if one of your longtime wrestling colleagues, for example Scott Hall, came out to you?

Nash: That's an ongoing angle that I think Scott and I could do is if, after all these years, people find out that Hall and Nash are actually gay. The Disco Inferno. It'd be the biggest thing. For all these macho guys to find out Nash and Hall are gay.

OS: Some of these guys who play gay characters are gay. How does that play off, with Kevin Nash the person being straight, but Kevin Nash the character being gay?

Nash: When Goldust did it, I think a lot of guys got creeped out about it. The part I played in "The Longest Yard," where I took some estrogen and became a little more feminine, I've had friends go, "Dude, how can you do that?" And I say, "Well, I read the script and it was funny." I was doing a comedy and I read the script and none of the guys wanted to play that part.

OS: Why is that?

Nash: It's just the homophobia. That's the way I look at it.

OS: Thanks for taking the time, and thanks for having such a great attitude about gay issues.

Nash: Like I said, when you have family who are "alternative lifestyle," it's not that big of a deal. It's just part of our family. It's no big deal.