By Sean Neumann
Every professional wrestler has his career defining moment. Matt Cage is hoping his moment hasn’t happened yet.
Three weeks after coming out as gay, the 26 year old’s new fear is that he won’t be remembered for his work in the ring, but rather for the announcement he made outside of it.
“I understand I’m the flavor of the month right now,” said Cage, who came out in a Facebook post in June. “I’d like to believe that while people are watching me wrestle, even if they are aware of my sexual orientation, they don’t give a shit about it because when I’m in the ring, I’m not thinking about that. It’s all business.”
Cage (real name Matt Hullum) recently signed on for a stint with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling, furthering his dream of wrestling professionally that he’s eyed since he was five when he first watched Randy Savage defeat Ric Flair at Wrestlemania VIII for the WWF Championship. But since that age, Cage has also battled depression and a rising level of stress rooted in the fear of taking his personal life public.
“When you’re a kid, it’s defined that (being gay) is not right, it’s wrong,” Cage said. “Growing up and having to deal with that is awful.”
The wrestler’s decision to go public wasn’t easy, not only having to consider how his friends would respond, but his coworkers as well. Cage said he was nervous how his booking would change, how his matches might change, and how his perception might change in and out of the ring. But ultimately he was emotionally spent and knew coming out wasn’t just best for him, but best for the business – a business where men are required to be in close physical contact with other men.
“There’s undoubtedly other wrestlers in my shoes,” Cage said. “I’m willing to bet good money that I’ve been in the ring with closeted wrestlers who are afraid to come out.”
If he could go public and continue getting booked the same, he hoped others would follow suit. So Cage typed out his announcement and left it on his laptop for nearly two weeks, afraid to click “post.” When he finally did, he waited until 2:41 a.m., thinking the attention would be minimal.
“I got out of bed and started pacing around my apartment and thought, ‘I’m just going to take it down.’ I opened my laptop and it had already been liked about 20 times,” Cage remembered, now able to laugh about his anxiety. “The response was ridiculous and overwhelming.”
The most important response came in a seven-word text from a friend at 3 a.m.: “Love you brother. Gym in the morning?” It was casual, yet acknowledging. It was exactly what Cage was searching for: to know that he was normal and that life would continue to be so.
Three weeks after fearing what would happen to his professional life after his personal one went public, Cage is gearing up for one of his busiest weekends yet, performing at shows with IWA Mid-South Wrestling, Dreamwave Wrestling, and Global Force Wrestling – his biggest payday yet.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do was be a wrestler and be happy,” Cage said.
And now he’s both.