Openly Gay WWE Icon Pat Patterson Dies at 79

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday December 2, 2020

Pat Patterson
Pat Patterson   (Source:WWE)

Openly gay WWE icon Pat Patterson has died at age 79, ESPN reports.

Patterson was born in 1941 in Montreal, entering into Canadian wrestling in 1958 which led him to the American Wrestling Association, where he and Ray Stevens would become tag-team champions. Joining WWE in 1979, Patterson won the title of Intercontinental champion in Rio de Janeiro, which he would hold for 233 days. Patterson retired from the ring in 1984, and moved to ringside commentary and behind-the-scenes work.

One of Patterson's contributions to WWE is the Royal Rumble, which he developed in 1988 and has since become an annual tentpole match for the organization. Patterson stated in his autobiography "Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE":

"The more I kept running the idea over in my mind, the more it took shape and I was sure I was on to something.

"I felt it: every instinct in my body told me it would work. So I finally brought the idea to Vince. He laughed at the concept at first, saying that an hour was way too long to keep fans interested. The first Royal Rumble was a success, but until it was over, we didn't really know if it would work. I knew it was a unique idea, but until a crowd responds, it's hard to know for sure."

Even though it wasn't disclosed to the public until years later, Patterson was also openly gay in the WWE world. Patterson discussed his sexuality on 2014 episode of the reality show "WWE Legends' House" with fellow wrestlers such as Roddy Piper and Jimmy Hart:

Tributes to Patterson appeared on social media after news broke of his passing:

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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