It was in 2015 that former MMA Fighter Sony Deville (Daria Berenato) became the first openly gay female wrestler in WWE history. Almost six years later, she is still on a mission to speak for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I really just want to be a voice for the community in sports — specifically, in the WWE. I want to let people know that their sexuality doesn’t define them and how they identify doesn’t define them. And I’m a perfect example of it,” she noted in her recent interview with Variety.com.
Sonya took up MMA after being inspired by names like Cris Cyborg and Gina Carano. She made her MMA debut back in 2014 with a win over Allentina Perez and went on to secure her second win against Jeselia Perez with both coming via stoppages. Although her third fight did not go according to plans, the doors of WWE had opened up for her by that time.
She was offered a spot in the WWE Tough Enough show by Maria Menounos with whom Sonya had worked earlier. Sonya decided to keep aside the MMA title fight opportunity that she had gotten and went for Tough Enough instead as she realized that it helped her to mix her interests of performance and fighting.
It was during her stint at Tough Enough that Sonya came out as a Gay; that too, on national television.
“I honestly thought that was going to hurt my chances of getting hired. That’s just how naive I was. I didn’t accept myself, so I didn’t think anyone else was going to accept me,” she recalled.
Her assumptions were out of place and Sonya was soon awarded a WWE NXT contract in 2015 and later managed to move to the main roster in 2017. She noted that she gets a lot of messages and added that she will continue to voice her sound for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I would say that about 70% of my fan base is part of the community somehow, some way. I get messages constantly on Instagram and Twitter and emails, just all the people always asking me like, ‘Hey, do you have any advice on how I should come out?’ Or ‘Thank you. You helped me feel OK with myself and my sexuality.’ That’s literally the reason I use my voice.”
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