A new report has revealed that the United States government attempted to deport WWE Hall of Famer Pat Patterson for being gay.
Pat Patterson was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in January 1941. After beginning his wrestling aged just 14, Patterson made his in-ring debut in 1958 before heading to the United States in 1961, working for Tony Santos’ Big Time Wrestling.
Despite knowing very limited English at the time Pat Patterson began to move up the card, before working in some of the biggest promotions of the era. Despite social attitudes during the 1960’s the young star’s sexuality wasn’t an issue within the wrestling community, with Patterson writing in his autobiography Acceptedthat “being gay turned out not to be an issue at all.”
However, it has now come to light that the now defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) spent a portion of the decade investigating Patterson in a bid to find evidence of “homosexual activity.” This would have seen him deported back to Canada.
Writing in MEL Magazine, David Bixenspan notes that, in files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Patterson was under investigation.
One memo in Patterson’s file dated April 14th 1965 reads:
“This investigation based on information received from the OFFICE OF SPECIAL INVESTIGATION, United States [redacted], furnishing information that the SUBJECT is a homosexual, Object to locate and interview any persons who may be able to offer information of the SUBJECT’s possible homosexual activities.”
During this period, Patterson appeared as ‘Pretty Boy’ Pat Patterson, wearing lipstick, using a long cigarette holder and wearing with flamboyant ring gear.
While it’s unclear what sparked the investigation, a summary of witness interviews from April 14th 1965 appears to highlight two particular incidents.
“The reports relate to an investigation conducted by Portland Police Department morals officers at homosexual parties in Portland,”
“These reports mention a wrestler named ‘PRETTY BOY JACKSON.’”
The same document also points to a Air Force’s Office of Special Investigation into a different wrestler, an Air Force veteran whose name is redacted.
Bixenspan notes that “This Air Force investigation is the most likely direct catalyst for the investigation into Patterson, as his name first came up in it just five days before the Portland INS Office requested his file from the central office in Washington, D.C.”
The document shows numerous interviews with “Portland area homosexuals.” Patterson was living in Portland, Oregon at the time. It’s noted that Patterson “acted gay” at the parties mentioned above, and was known as “MISS PATTERSON.”
On May 10th 1965, Pat Patterson himself was interviewed by the INS during his time working in San Francisco. At this point the investigation slows, seemingly due to a lack of clear evidence.
However, the investigation picked back up on November 18th 1966, when the INS initiated deportation proceedings. It was said that Patterson had provided a fraudulent work itinerary. In the memo summarising the hearing, it’s noted that Patterson said he had no desire to return to Canada.
Patterson was also asked why he dyed his hair blond and used “rather effeminate mannerisms.” The former Intercontinental Champion explained that this was done in an effort to make him stand out as a wrestler, so people would pay to see him in action. At the hearing he was asked whether he was gay, he denied it. Before being asked if he “molested little boys.” An accusation he also denied.
Despite no record of a follow up hearing taking place, the INS kept digging and contacted the Air Force for a file on the gay serviceman and wrestler mentioned above. On December 15th 1965, they received a memo summarising the witness statements in relation to Patterson. On November 3rd, 1964 the airman admitted to having “homosexual relations” with Patterson.
On December 9th, 1964 Patterson was interviewed with details being included in the Air Force investigators report.
“PAT PATERSON [sic] was contacted in Seattle on December 9,1964 and denied ever having any homosexula [sic] relations with [redacted]; that when [redacted] was interviewed later he too denied his previous admission of homosexual relations with Pat Paterson [sic] and explained the reason for such false admission was only because of ‘PATS’ [sic] reputation of being a homo, and his desire to be relieved from the [several words redacted].”
On December 20th, 1966, Patterson was instructed to notify the INS of his plans by January 5th, 1967, or leave the country on or before January 10th. The stamps on the notice suggest that Patterson may have returned to Canada for a week, although it’s unclear. On December 21st, the INS requested a psychological evaluation of Patterson.
Bixenspan surmises the following:
“Basically, it looks as if the INS was attempting to trick Patterson into leaving the country 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.”
Despite this, the attempts at deportation appear to go no further, with Patterson applying for a green card in 1971.
Patterson went on to join WWE in 1979, remaining the with the company until his death in December 2020. During this time he became the first-ever Intercontinental Champion, later being known as one of the best agents in the business.
Pat Patterson passed away on December 2nd 2020 at the age of 79.