WWE referee Shawn Bennett came out on Monday in celebration of National Coming Out Day. The Raw referee posted on Instagram that after he was scared of someone finding out about his sexuality, he’s now living proudly and openly.
“Happy National Coming Out Day!” Bennett wrote. “Oh yea, I’m gay.”
He added that it was the answer to the question he’s asked the most on social media. Bennett wrote that while people who knew him already knew, he never said it publicly.
“To put my life in perspective, I started refereeing at age 14. I did my best to suppress any and all homosexual thoughts before and after that for a long time,” Bennett wrote. “I didn’t come to my own full realization about myself until [my] early 20s. That’s when I knew it was the way of life that would make me happy. As cliche as it sounds, I feel I was born this way.”
The WWE referee said that he came out to friends and family in his late 20s. He never hid from his sexual orientation, but he also wasn’t that open. He said that he was concerned that he wouldn’t be successful in the WWE if people knew he was gay.
“Once I got to WWE, I would continue to keep to myself as much as possible. When discussing relationships around people that were not in my close circle, I would talk in a way that would hide the sex of whoever I was talking about,” Bennett explained. “I would even pretend to be single when I wasn’t, just to avoid talking about my past partner.”
Not wanting to hide behind a mask anymore, he wrote that the post eases a lot of weight off of himself: “This post crumbles the wall that I’ve had up for so long and removes the mask.”
Bennett wrote in the post that he’s now proud of who he is, what he’s accomplished, where his life is headed, and his way of life.
“Like everyone else, at the end of the day I just want to be happy, to give and receive love, both to myself and others,” he said.