CULTURE

Gay, wrestler, and proud of it

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Santinni Lagman, who goes by the name of Martivo The Man Doll as soon as he steps into the ring, is the first openly gay wrestler in the Philippines. Photo by SAMANTHA LEE

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The Philippine Wrestling Revolution has been gathering a Filipino community of wrestlers since 2013. Expectedly, it produces a wide range of characters for their every show — from matinee idols to ‘jejemon’ characters.

Another character that has been getting a wide following is Santinni Lagman, who goes by the name of Martivo The Man Doll as soon as he steps into the ring, and is the first openly gay wrestler in the Philippines.

“At first I was really scared,” he shares. “It's a man-dominated world and I didn't know how these guys are going to react, how they're going to accept me as part of the roster.”

Fortunately, Lagman says he has not been thrown with any kind of hate speech while performing. “I guess because I play a good character,” he adds. “People would call me ‘momshie, beshie, sige na besh, push mo na ‘yan besh,’ stuff like that.”

But more than just being true to himself, what Lagman appreciates most in his work is being able to inspire people to live their own truths. “[People would] send me messages like, ‘Hey Martivo I'd like to thank you for doing what you do. You inspired me to be myself to come out. And to accept myself for who I really am.’”