I wouldn't call his wrestling career short. He started wrestling in 1958 and retired in 1985. His career was winding down when wrestling started to go national. In the territory days, he wrestled mostly on the west coast during the '60s and '70s.
As for being the first openly gay wrestler, I don't think the fans knew, but I'm sure the promoters and other wrestlers knew.
Well that's my mistake, then.
I suppose what I should have said was that most of us who came in during the WWF Superstars era had probably missed his wrestling career for the most part and knew him as a backstage guy.