The wrestling legend came out on the show (Photo: WWE)
The legend and pioneer – who has died aged 79 – referred to himself as wrestling’s first gay superstar, and he came out publicly to his peers during an emotional episode of reality show Legends’ House in 2014.
Addressing the likes of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Jimmy Hart and “Mean Gene” Oakerlund, he said: ‘From where I come from, what I have – I had nothing, no family, no money, and I ended up with Vince working in the office.
‘To me, that was the biggest achievement of my life – but there’s more to that, guys. There’s more to that.
‘Sitting here tonight, I’m gonna say something I would never wanna say publicly, but being here with you guys, for once in my life I’m gonna be me now. I survived all this being gay.’
His fellow legends could be seen welling up in the powerful video, with Oakerlund patting him on the shoulder and offering some support.
A visibly emotional Patterson added: ‘I lived with that for 50-something years. I had a friend with me for 40 years, and I lost him because he had a heart attack and I ended up alone.
‘I survived in this business, I did. I’m so proud of me. It’s tough, guys. It was tough.’
The other wrestlers could be heard offering words of support and encouragement, and speaking to the camera after coming out, Patterson said he wanted to ‘be happy’ for the rest of his life.
‘I gave my life to the business,’ he explained. ‘I don’t regret nothing, and for the rest of my life I wanna be happy.’
As well as being the first person to capture the IC Title in 1979, the legendary performer was vital behind the scenes across a career spanning six decades and invented the Royal Rumble match.
In his book Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, he wrote: ‘The first Royal Rumble was on January 24, 1988, in Hamilton, Ontario.
‘The difference between WWE’s Royal Rumble and a traditional over-the-top rope battle royal is that the participants come into the match at two-minute intervals – not all at the same time at the beginning of the match.
‘I wanted to create something special.’