Openly gay wrestler Jake Atlas has been signed by WWE.
The wrestler will join WWE in January 2020, according to OutSports.
The wrestler, real name Kenny Marquez, has made a splash on the indie wrestling scene by winning the 2017 Southern California Rookie of the Year Award, before coming out in 2018.
Responding to reports of his signing, Atlas made clear: “I’m not ‘a gay wrestler’. I’m a wrestler.”
He has previously named a wrestling move the LGBDDT in honour of the queer community.
Jake Atlas: Being a WWE wrestler would be a dream come true.
Marquez made an appearance on WWE boss Stephanie McMahon’s episode of reality show Celebrity Undercover Boss in 2018.
In a WWE tryouts video in January, he explained: “I shared some pretty personal information with her, and I am grateful that I was able to tell her to her face that I am gay and I’m dreaming of being a WWE superstar at the same time. [Afterwards] I had the guts to email Stephanie, and I said, ‘What do I have to do to get a tryout?’
“She was able to say, ‘Save these dates, make it happen, and good luck,’ so there’s a lot of pressure on me this weekend. I’m very blessed to be here.”
The former competitive cheerleader explained: “To be a WWE superstar, it would be incredible. Words can’t even describe how it would feel. It’s insane. I would be very grateful, and it would be a dream come true.
“I know right now that there a lot of kids looking at me, and the fact that they see Kenny Marquez with his background being here, I know it’s affecting them.
“When I’m doing drills in the ring and everything you ask of me, I’m not thinking of myself, I’m thinking of the people who are watching and saying, ‘wow, he’s there, and he’s fighting.’ That’s what keeps me going.”
McMahon said: “I believe everything happens for a reason and timing is everything, so if right now is not Kenny’s time in WWE, I have no doubt that we’ll see him in future and it will be his time to be with us.”
Speaking to OutSports previously while part of Pacific Coast Wrestling, Atlas said: “To have management believe in my story and background, allowing me to showcase my pride with the lifestyle I live, has been an incredible sense of relief.
“I am one of the leading faces of PCW Ultra, along with some of the greatest talent in the world. I am also gay. I am proud of that.”
He’s not the first gay WWE wrestler.
Although he is the first wrestler to be out-and-proud before joining WWE, Atlas is not the first gay person in the franchise’s history.
Darren Young became the first openly gay wrestler in WWE in 2013, when he came out in an interview with TMZ.
Asked whether wrestling was ready for a gay wrestler, Young had responded: “I’m a WWE superstar and I’ll tell you right now, I’m gay. And I’m happy. Very happy I don’t think it matters… does it change what you think about me?”
Sonya Deville is not only WWE’s first openly lesbian star, but she also became the first cast member of reality show Total Divas.