WWE’s Sonya Deville made wrestling history this weekend at WrestleMania 34 as the first openly gay women to compete in the event.
Deville – real name Daria Berenato – opened up about her sexuality during the 2015 season of WWE’s reality TV competition series, Tough Enough.
Deville was one of the contestants vying for a contract with WWE on that show.
The reveal came when the show’s judges asked if she was in a relationship. Deville responded: “I don’t have a wife yet, but I have a girlfriend.”
After the episode aired, Deville told New Jersey’s 6ABC News, the matter-of-fact reveal wasn’t planned.
“I’ve gotten so much generosity and so much love so far. People from all kinds of LGBT organisations reaching out saying, ‘What you did was amazing, thank you for representing our families,’ and that kind of stuff,” said the former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.
If I can help people in this process and be a voice to people who might be intimidated of coming out themselves or are scared to or think that it’s wrong and they see me doing it in front of pretty big people in the WWE world, hopefully it will give them the courage to do it.”
Deville didn’t last long very long on Tough Enough, but impressed WWE executives offered her a developmental contract regardless.
She began appearing regularly on the WWE Network show, WWE NXT, from May 2017, before joining WWE’s main roster in November with Mandy Rose. Together with veteran wrestler, Paige, they form the group Absolution.
Since joining the cast of WWE’s popular show Monday Night Raw, Deville has made history by competing in the first women’s Elimination Chamber match in February.
Earlier this week, Deville praised WWE for releasing a new T-shirt devoted to wrestler Finn Balor that features the rainbow flag. 20 percent of proceeds from the inclusive tee will go to LGBT+ organisation GLAAD.
“I proudly support this message! Being a part of the LGBT community myself in the @WWE its such a great feeling to see @FinnBalor speaking out with such an amazing positive message! 🏳️🌈 #EQUALITY,” she wrote.