Out Gay, Pro Wrestler Dead; Apparent Suicide
Former pro wrestler Chris Klucsaritis--better known to wrestling fans as Chris Kanyon--struggled with bipolar disorder and had attempted suicide in the past. Klucsaritis, 40, died over the weekend at his Queens, NY apartment, apparently from an overdose; his death is thought to have been a suicide. Wrestling Observer reported that only a few days prior to his death, Kanyon was talking about killing himself.
Klucsaritis spent most of his career in the closet, but came out as gay following the end of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and his release from WCW purchaser World Wrestling Federation. Klucsaritis claimed that he was let go because he was gay, but the Wrestling Observer story said that his physique was not what the WWF wanted in its athletes. The article noted that Klucsaritis made an attempt to reignite his career as an openly gay wrestler, but that the idea didn’t take. Even so, Klucsaritis still occasionally wrestled. He was also a contributor to Tha O Show.
Klucsaritis knew from an early age that he was gay. A March 31, 2006, Outsports story described how at age 5, Klucsaritis found himself attracted to slightly older boy. At age 11, in an attempt to make himself straight, he kissed a girl, "But there were no fireworks," the wrestler told OutSports. "I was gay, that I would be gay for the rest of my life and that my life would not be easy." Added Klucsaritis, "The next three or four months were brutal; they were really hard because I knew I was not like everyone else."
Klucsaritis said that although he had some same-sex encounters, he did not address his homosexuality until after a suicide attempt in 2003. "I know that, if I had gay role-models to look up to as a kid, I might not have forced myself into the closet," Klucsaritis told OutSports in the article, which centered around his then-recent disclosure that he was gay. "I knew when I was 11-years-old that my sexuality was something I needed to keep secret from everyone, and I never re-visited that until after the suicide attempt."
The wrestler told OutSports about the professional and personal cost o being in the closet. "When the homosexuality was getting me down, when I was really struggling with my identity and self-confidence, I could tell," he said. "My work-rate, my ability in the ring really suffered." But, "I was in a catch-22," he continued. "The more popular I got, the more miserable I got. I always thought I could do so much better if I could just come clean, be who I was. But I couldn’t.
"Everyone is looking for a significant other, be it a man or a woman, in their life," he continued. "There were times I thought I’d never find one, especially with the profession I was in. I always thought if [the truth] got out, I’d get in trouble or get fired."
Despite pro wrestling’s highly theatrical presentation, the sport--like many sports--is seen as homophobic. For a subset of men who have sex with men (MSMs), however, wrestling also carries an erotic component; this aspect of the sport was examined in a documentary called Stronghold: In the Grip of Wrestling, by filmmaker Victor Rook, reported WWE Raw Result in an Aug. 23, 2009, article. Among MSMs, there is a subculture of wrestling as a form of erotic encounter. The film includes a discussion of wrestling’s erotic side as part of a broad and inclusive overview of the sport’s roots and history and its role in American culture.