Dale Gagne wrestles with the truth

Drama and deceit in sports entertainment's inner circle

Despite all the jokes about men in tights, wrestling is a decidedly macho sport; very few professional wrestlers have been openly out. And the characters portrayed as gay are effeminate and stereotyped, like glitter-clad "Exotic" Adrian Street, who kissed his opponents to escape being pinned.

Gagner blames his urge to stay in the closet on the wrestling industry. He claims gay wrestlers have to sign waivers requiring they act straight in public.

Most people stay at PRIDE for 28 days. Gagner stayed 50.

Tony Nelson
Gagner learned how to run a wrestling organization
Tony Nelson
Gagner learned how to run a wrestling organization

He left September 15 ready to share his story.

Now, at Rudolph's Bar, he is full of the enthusiasm of a new 12-stepper.

"Secrets keep us sick," Gagne explains. "You just have to become an open book."

His sidekick, the well-groomed young man with an air of efficiency, went through treatment with Gagner. After their intense, two-month journey together, Gagner considers the young man his best friend.

With the assistance of his new friend, Gagner is setting up shop in Uptown. He says he'll go back to wrestling, but this time it will be different.

"I am not interested in the con anymore," Gagne says. "I am not interested in, you know, hurting people in any way."

Gagner admits there are people he owes amends to, though it's hard for him to think who, specifically, they might be.

"But what I am going to do is take a list of those—those I remember," he says. "And pray over it. And you know, make a verbal amends, although I won't go to the person because I don't even know where the people are."

Gagner says his newfound sobriety is a refreshing change after all those years playing a role. Now, he says, he wants only the truth. He's even thinking of becoming a counselor.

He reflects for a moment on where he's been over those many years—all the lies, all the spin.

"I've been in the business for so long that you can't turn it off," he says. "What I'd like to do is drop the persona and be just who I am today."

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