US Gov't Targeted Canadian WWE Hall of Famer for Deportation, Fearing He Might be Gay

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday October 21, 2021
Originally published on October 20, 2021

The United States government had WWE great Pat Patterson in its sights for deportation in the 1960s because, newly uncovered documents indicate, there were fears that he might be gay, Wrestling Inc reported.

Patterson, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996, came out publicly in 2014. But well before then, he was on the Immigration and Naturalization Service's radar, the article said.

"Previously unreleased documents show the INS' attempts at booting the wrestler out of the country, as compiled by David Bixenspan in his new feature for MEL Magazine," Wrestling Inc detailed.

Bixenspan obtained the documents last year, under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The effects of the Lavender Scare — an offshoot of the Red Scare in which thousands of civil servants were tossed out of their jobs in the 1950s in an attempt to Purge LGTBQ+ people from the ranks of government employees —†were still being felt at the time, according to Bixenspan, the article noted.

Even apart from Lavender Scare's anti-gay paranoia, immigration law already had homophobia baked into it. "If any gay immigrants (or even if they were simply suspected as being gay) got in trouble with the law, they were often put into the exclusion categories of 'afflicted with psychopathic personality' and 'sexual deviation,' " Wrestling Inc recounted, citing Bixenspan's article. "This would be a way for the INS to come in and say they were deportable at any time due to being excludable the moment they entered the country."

It was on this basis that the INS might have deported Patterson, with his flamboyant affectations (such as wearing lipstick) seemingly having been a red flag to the agency, the article noted.

British site Metro reported that, according to Bixenspan's research, there were also reports from the vice cops of Portland, where Patterson was living when he adopted the flamboyant appearance, that seemed tp peg Patterson at gay parties and claimed that witnesses had spoken of a wrestler known as "Miss Patterson."

Patterson endured a deportation hearing in which, the newly resurfaced documents recount, "He was asked point-blank if he was a homosexual and denied it. He was also asked if he molested little boys and denied that."

In explaining his flamboyant gimmick, including "why he had dyed his hair blond and why he used some of the rather effeminate mannerisms which he affected," Patterson told officials "that when he was starting out as a wrestler the promoters told him that he was colorless; that besides being a good wrestler he had to be different and that in his case they suggested the blond hair, cigarette holder and other effeminate mannerisms, saying that while the people would not like it, it would draw them to the bouts."

That proceeding ended when Patterson claimed that those envious of his ability were "trying to get him into trouble." The official documenting the proceeding wrote: "As I had no evidence with which to confront him, I let the matter drop there."

Bixenspan theorized that the INS had also tried to trick Patterson into going back to Canada "with the expectation that he would be able to easily secure a green card, only to use a psychological exam to declare him unfit to enter the U.S. as a homosexual," Wrestling Inc added.

Patterson died last year at the age of 79.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.