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  • I'll say it: sports are gay


    "I've always found sports to be quite gay. Most sports revolve around balls. Most of them involve men fighting to get balls into holes. You also have men getting naked in locker rooms together, you have men smacking each other’s behinds, and you have men jumping up on each other when celebrating a point scored or won."

    Tadeo Martinez, creator of new show Lucho Libre, tells it like it is.

    In trying to decide what the "un-manliest" sport is - I came to the conclusion that it has  to be wrestling. I’ll state just a couple of my many reasons: 

    • Men oil themselves up 

    • Men touch each other all over 

    • Men wear very tight spandex, some of which leave nothing to the imagination

    • Men, at certain points, literally have their crotches in each other’s faces

    • Men are celebrated for pinning other men down to the floor for extended periods of time 

    I rest my case. 

    This? This is what being a "man" is? This is what we teach young boys they should  strive to be like? And yet two men holding hands down the street is too much?     

    When you’re Mexican, you kind of just know about Lucha Libre. It's a form of  professional wrestling where contestants often wear masks. It’s such a huge part of the  Mexican culture. Although I wasn’t necessarily a fan, or deeply knowledgeable before starting  this process, I was by no means unfamiliar with it; I went to one or two matches growing up,  and watched a couple on television. Plus, Mucha Lucha, a Spanish-language cartoon that I was obsessed with which takes place within world of the Lucha Libre, played at my  grandmother's house every Saturday when I visited. The sport is considered to be one of the  manliest and most traditional forms of live entertainment in México - so it seemed interesting  and natural to me to merge it with another form of live entertainment: theatre. 

    Circling back to my sports are gay argument, the undertones (and sometimes  overtones) of queerness have always been deeply engrained in the Lucha Libre. But it wasn't  until I started the writing process and began researching LGBTQ+ representation within the  Lucha world, that I learned about exóticos: luchadores who fight in drag. Luchadores who, throughout history, were rarely given the chance to win. I actually came across a specific article  that chronicled a man's journey to becoming exótico. When he showed up to a Lucha school  asking to be trained, he wasn't taken in - he was beaten up. The next day, he went back, and  got beat up again. This kept on happening until one day: the school took him in. There was  something within this story about him earning others’ respect through physical violence that  seemed interesting to me. Him finding beauty or strength within some form of pain or loss?  Him needing to be a part of this world so badly he was able to take punch after punch and still  go back day after day? And, most importantly, him being so true to himself that he refused to  shift who he was, (or wanted to be), in order to be allowed to take up space.  

    While researching, I also came across Cassandro: one of the first openly gay  Luchadores. Someone I now consider to be one of the most important LGBTQ+ figures in  México. I knew I couldn’t write a queer Lucha Libre story without mentioning or honoring him.  

    What I couldn't particularly get past is the need for violence or physical altercation. The  last thing I wanted to do was tell a story that told audiences "in order to get through life as a  gay man you need to throw some hands." But in thinking about violence, I couldn't help think  back to something my father said to me in primary school after an altercation with another kid: 

    "You will never get in trouble in this house for fighting back, or defending yourself."

    Such a Mexican-dad thing to say, isn't it?

    But it sparked something in me. What if this Lucha Libre story was about that kid? What  if it was that queer Mexican boy that got picked on for being different? What if what made him  different was something highly niche and ridiculous like, I don't know, his love of High School  Musical, (or Disney Channel in general)? What if he needed the Lucha to learn how to defend  himself? This felt very exposing. It felt personal. It felt... dangerous? It felt highly weird and  ridiculous - which made me feel like it was probably the right path to follow. And ultimately,  through readings and workshops, I've found this story has made others laugh, connect, and  actually see themselves within this weird, niche, Mexican kid. 

    This is in no way auto-biographical. Yes, there are a LOT of similarities, yes, a some of  these things happened, and yes, some of these words were really said, but ultimately; most of  this story is made up. Nevertheless, it's actually turned into what I wished would've happened.  This character, although a child, has turned into who I want to be. This piece has turned into a  love-letter to my younger self, an offer for healing to my family, and an invitation to open hearts  and minds. It's also a huge, joyous, celebration of my culture and its beautiful people. 

    I ultimately don't know if it's good. I don't know what will happen to or with it. But I know that I love it. I know it's made others laugh, feel seen, and connect. I know it exposes  sports as being kinda gay. And as an artist, that's all I could hope for.  

    "You can't just sit back and watch the world change / It matters what you got to say / There's no one else who can stand in your place" - Hannah Montana 

    Lucho Libre comes to SPRINT Festival

    Sun 10 Mar 2024 at 7.15 pm 

    Tickets £8

    Tadeo Martinez

    "CPT is the first place we turn to when we have a new idea, knowing that experimentation and new ideas are always supported."

    Sh!t Theatre