Wrestling for Mom

By Paul Pratt

Originally published on Advocate.com November 06 2007 1:00 AM ET

At 6 foot 5 and
more than 340 pounds of solid muscle, World Wrestling
Entertainment superstar Batista has never been afraid to
hand out beat-downs—in or out of the wrestling
ring. In his new autobiography, Batista Unleashed,
the reigning World Heavyweight champion describes how
his single mother moved coast-to-coast to protect him
from violence and his own criminal behavior as a youth.

Eventually
Batista—who recalls seeing three people shot in his
Washington, D.C., front yard before he turned
9—discovered bodybuilding. The pastime not only
chiseled his physique into a weapon mass destruction,
it kept him off the streets and in the process probably
saved his life.

At 30, usually
the midway point in a pro wrestling career, Batista found
his way into the WWE. In short order he became one of the
multimillion dollar industry’s top draws,
ultimately headlining WrestleMania, the Super Bowl of
sports entertainment, where he won his first of three World
Heavyweight Championships to date.

In this exclusive
interview, the athlete born Dave Bautista but known to
millions around the world as “the Animal,”
discusses his respect for pro wrestling’s
highest-ranking gay, the former WWE superstar turned agent
Pat Patterson, how the industry is changing to accept
greater diversity, and why nobody would dare mouth off
about his lesbian mom.

Batista (PR) x395 | Advocate.com

In Batista Unleashed, you mention your
mother and father attempted to reconcile during your
early childhood--despite the fact she’s a lesbian.
It was just one time they tried to reconcile
which I really remember, and that was after my mom
moved to San Francisco. They tried to save the
marriage, but I don’t even remember that lasting very
long.

As a child, how did your mother’s sexuality
impact you?
It didn’t. It really didn’t. I
don’t really remember my mom not having
girlfriends. I never really thought about it. I
don’t think I was really aware then. It’s not
like my mom was making out with girls in front of us.
[Chuckles] She just had her girlfriends around,
and that’s how she referred to them—she called
her girlfriends “girlfriends.” Even my
dad—I don’t think I really ever noticed my dad
that much either. I don’t have any strong
recollection of him being with us for any long period
of time.

Throughout your autobiography, you mention running
with a rough group of kids. Were you ever made fun of
for having a lesbian mother?
Never. I was a pretty tough kid. I don’t
know if they were just too afraid to say anything or
what. In San Francisco, it’s really no big
deal, but I don’t remember ever getting any grief for
it. And it was very obvious. My mom’s
girlfriends weren’t the most feminine girls. It
wasn’t hard to figure out, but I don’t
remember ever hearing anything about it. Anybody who
did would get a smack from me. I wasn’t afraid to
stick up for my mom. She’s my mom, and I love
her. I don’t care if she's got a girlfriend or
a boyfriend. She’s my mom; I love her.

Various Web sites and features promoting Batista
Unleashed
describe it
as “scandalous.” In the book itself,
though, you mention your mother's being a lesbian
quite in passing.
That is only a very small part of who my
mom is. It’s not like it was some dirty
secret I had to hide, and I think a lot of that comes from
my her. She was never secretive about it. She never made us
feel it was something to be ashamed of. I think the
most important message about my mom is not that
she’s a lesbian but that she’s a single mother
who struggled to keep her three kids safe and alive,
off the streets and out of prison, to keep food on the
table. Those are the messages I wanted to convey, not
who she was in a relationship with at the time.

For your grandfather, that your mother is lesbian
was far less troubling than the fact she’s a Democrat.
My grandfather is actually a great guy, but
I’ve never talked politics with him.
[Laughs] Now he seems very easygoing, but back
then he might have been a little more uptight. My mom
is still kind of touchy about certain things around him.

You take time to thank Pat Patterson, who, though
he was once tabloid fodder when he was basically outed
in the 1980s, has managed to stayed relevant in
the industry.
First of all, I love Pat to death. It took a
long time for Pat to really warm up to me. He’s
somebody who really loves our business. He really
thinks you should pay your dues. Once he saw I really do
have a passion for the business, I can’t even
tell you how supportive he’s been. He’s
openly gay; he’s not ashamed, and everybody knows
about it. Honestly, nobody cares. We all respect Pat
Patterson for what he’s accomplished and what
he helps our company with. He’s somebody I always
talk about my matches with on the road. He cares about
the wrestlers. We could care less who he’s
sleeping with at night.

It’s hard to imagine sexuality not being an issue
in an industry so driven by ego—and testosterone.
It’s not. It’s not at all. I think
our company -- and the industry in general -- is not
today what it used to be. It’s also not the same
industry it was 20 years ago. A lot of people have that
“big ol’ redneck wrassler”
stereotype still in their head. That’s just not what
it is anymore. Our company has grown with the times.
Any kind of discrimination like that in our locker
rooms is not accepted. It’s just not cool.