WWE legend Pat Patterson, who came out publicly as gay in 2014 though his sexual orientation was known by those in the business for years, has died at the age of 79.
Wrote WWE in a statement: “A true trailblazer of the industry, Patterson was linked to many ‘firsts’ in sports-entertainment throughout his storied career, including the first-ever Intercontinental Title reign and the creation of the Royal Rumble Match. In a career spanning six decades, the renaissance man left an indelible mark on the industry in the ring, on the microphone and behind the scenes.”
Patterson came out on an episode of the WWE reality show Legends’ House.
Said Patterson: “For once in my life I’m going to be me now. I survived all this being gay. I lived with that for 50 some years. I had a friend with me for 40 years and I lost him…it was tough guys. It was tough.”
TMZ adds: “In his book — “Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE” — Patterson explained how the Rumble came to be. ‘The first Royal Rumble was on January 24, 1988, in Hamilton, Ontario. The difference between WWE’s Royal Rumble and a traditional over-the-top rope battle royal is that the participants come into the match at two-minute intervals — not all at the same time at the beginning of the match. I wanted to create something special.‘”