Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE | Book Review

Pat Patterson was one of the greatest wrestlers to EVER lace up a pair of boots. And he was equally great as face or heel, which is a rarity in the business.

I was blessed to see Patterson throughout his entire WWWF run, from his record-breaking four Madison Square Garden sellouts versus Bob Backlund to his tremendous feuds with such all-time greats as Ken Patera, Sgt. Slaughter, King Kong Mosca, and Ivan Koloff.

I regard him as one of my top ten all-time favorites and would easily put him in on any top twenty all-time greats list. And his tag team with Ray Stevens could safely be put on any top ten team list as well without argument.

So, when I just happened to see Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE on my local library shelf, I grabbed it.

The earliest Pat Patterson wrestling picture on record. [Source: Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE]
The earliest Pat Patterson wrestling picture on record. [Source: Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE]

Pat Patterson’s autobiography is “an absolute delight.”

I was immediately enamored with its laid back and natural tone; it sounded like Patterson was sitting in the local bars he loves so much, just talking openly and honestly about his life with a glass of wine in his hand and a smile on his face. It felt warm, cozy, real, and most certainly in HIS voice.

The first half of the book is an absolute delight. It chronicles a young man with empty pockets and a dream taking every crazy chance in the world to do what he loves. While pretty much “in the closet” among his wrestling peers, he nonetheless finds the love of his life and is able to successfully juggle a main-event career with a decades-long relationship. He details wild times and a great friendship with another legend in Ray Stevens, his love of great ribs, and walks us through the territories he worked and the opponents and feuds that have made him a ring immortal. He is particularly grateful to such legends as Mad Dog Vachon, Killer Kowalski, and others for their kindness and support. However, he has mixed emotions about various promoters such as Roy Shire while chronicling their homophobia. He also writes about the dangers heels faced in that period as fans were violent to the point of rioting. And poignantly, he goes into detail about his parents- his mother’s loving acceptance of him and a far tougher road with his dad.

Recommended article: WWE Riot: The Time Fans Got Rowdy at a 1997 House Show

When Pat Patterson gets the opportunity to go to “New York” he grabs it and becomes not only a WWWF main-event draw but segues into the front office and helps the soon to be WWF and later WWE become a worldwide phenomenon. However, it’s his post-in ring career part of the book where he loses me to a certain degree. His glowing praise of the McMahon family is good and fine, but with virtually no criticisms whatsoever offered, I’d at least be curious as to why Vince never deemed a Ray Stevens worthy of their Hall of Fame or how Pat feels about Vince putting the territories out of business. And his “WWE speak” is almost painful to me. Fans somehow become “Members of the WWE universe” and wrestlers are “Superstars.” Really, Pat? It’s the one part of the book where I wonder if those are actually his words or if the corporation took over. And his observation that RAW today is “very good” is simply beyond me. For THIS old-time fan, WWE TV is generally penance for sins I committed in previous lifetimes. Hey, maybe this is all legit and his true feelings, but when you must question it as a reader, it takes away from an otherwise tremendous read.

In short, I do highly recommend this book, for not only old school fans and Patterson fanatics such as myself, but for the inspirational tale of a man who fearlessly followed his dream, had a love of a lifetime, and lived a wildly successful and remarkable life on his own terms. All in all, it’s one of the best wrestling bios I’ve come across.

Get your copy of Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE today!

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Evan Ginzburg
Evan Ginzburg is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories. He was an Associate Producer on the movie "The Wrestler" and "350 Days" starring Bret Hart and Superstar Billy Graham. He is a nearly 30-year film, radio and TV veteran. He can be reached on Twitter @evan_ginzburg or by e-mail at evan_ginzburg@yahoo.com.