Episode 20 | 60 Minutes with Division 1 NCAA Champion and Openly Gay Male, Mike Pucillo


In this episode, we interview former Division 1 NCAA Wrestling Champion and openly gay male, Mike Pucillo. Mike is one of the most accomplished wrestlers to ever set foot on an Ohio State Wrestling mat. In high school, he was a 4 time OHSAA state placer, 3 time finalist, and a 189 lbs State Champion. He went on to be a 3 time All-American at Ohio State, winning a national title in 2008. Throughout his career, Mike also struggled with his identity as a gay male. In 2015, he came out to his friends, family, and the wrestling community. We cover with him what this journey was like, why he’s decided to open up, and what his hopes are for the future for others in the LBGT community that are struggling through the same obstacles he’s faced his entire life.

Show Notes:

00:00 – Patreon and our Sponsor AWH
01:55 – Introduction
03:55 – What Mikey’s life is like today
05:00 – Growing up in Cleveland and Mikey’s younger years
07:00 – When did Mikey realize he could be a great wrestler?
09:30 – How Mikey ended up at Hofstra with Coach Tom Ryan
12:30 – Leaving Hofstra for Ohio State
16:05 – Being at Ohio State opened up Mikey’s career
17:38 – Mikey’s journey through college wrestling
19:30 – The first loss in college
21:00 – Teammates and friends
22:10 – Graduation, first job, and battling injuries
24:30 – Leaving wrestling behind
25:50 – Coming out as gay and how wrestling made it difficult
28:45 – Negative connotations and how they can affect people
30:00 – Fearing reactions of friends and family, and how they surprised Mikey
31:20 – The first person Mikey told, and Reece’s reaction to it
33:50 – Athlete Ally and coming out to the wrestling community
36:00 – Negative reactions and dealing with them
37:57 – How Mikey’s story helped others
38:55 – Stories that helped Mikey and Billy Bean’s book
40:30 – “I don’t want to make an announcement about coming out.”
41:25 – Telling his parents and Coach Ryan
42:55 – Perceptions and stereotypes
46:00 – Fearing how people might react
47:00 – Coach Ryan and how he handled it
49:30 – Understanding and how religion looks at the LGBT community
50:30 – It’s not a choice
52:15 – The Columbus LGBT community and how they helped Mikey
54:15 – The process of changing the wrestling communities perception
55:10 – Mikey’s advice to anyone listening
57:00 – You’re not alone and It Gets Better
57:30 – Resources
59:00 – Final remarks and AWH shout out


It Gets Better
Athlete Ally
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