Famed professional wrestler Pat Patterson was already a legend in 1996, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, but he still waited nearly a decade after that before coming out of the closet.
The Montreal native used to do battle with the legendary likes of Ric Flair and Sgt. Slaughter (below) in the beginning years of the 1960s and 1970s, and served as the henchman of WWE founder Vince McMahon for much of his later career. Still, it took Patterson, now a WWE executive, 50 years before coming out to the world as gay on the season finale of the WWE Network’s Legends’ House reality series.
“So where do I come from?” Patterson asks his housemates over a meal in the video below. “I got nothing, no family, no money, and I ended up with Vince, working in the office. To me, that was the biggest achievement of my life. But there’s more to that, guys…. Sitting here tonight I’m gonna say something that I would never want to say publicly, but being here with you guys for once in my life, I’m gonna be me now. I survived all this being gay. I lived with that for 50-some years, and I had a friend with me for 40 years, and I lost him because he had a heart attack, and I ended up alone.” His sobbing turns to full-blown crying. “It’s tough guys. It was tough. I love you.”
“We love you too,” one of his housemates says.
Later, in an interview, Patterson added, “I gave my life to the business. I don’t regret nothing. And for the rest of my life I wanna be happy.”
The announcement comes as no surprise to avid wrestling fans, who probably already knew of Patterson’s homosexuality, but the 73-year-old said he wanted to make the announcement because he no longer wanted anyone to consider him “phony.”
Some didn’t feel it was necessary, like iconic WWE announcer Jim Ross, who tweeted:
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) June 13, 2014
The announcement actually is pretty dated by modern standards. The WWE Network filmed the inaugural season of Legends’ House in 2012, notes Bleacher Report, so that means Patterson had to wait a few years before his out-of-the-closet announcement finally was made on Thursday night.
Professional wrestling’s very first intercontinental champion, Patterson also is credited with being the brainchild behind McMahon’s lucrative Royal Rumble franchise. But he’s not the first big WWE star to announce that he’s gay of late. Last year, modern superstar Darren Young came out of the closet, but that’s technically a year after Patterson made his lifestyle known to his peers.
[Images courtesy of WWE]