Thursday, August 15, 2013

Darren Young - first openly gay WWE performer

A popular hangout spot for gossip website TMZ is LAX, since they catch a lot of celebrities going to and from wherever they're going. The WWE's 2nd biggest pay-per-view of the year, SummerSlam, is in Los Angeles this year, and a TMZ camera man caught up with WWE superstar Darren Young and asked him the question, "Do you think a gay wrestler could be successful in the WWE?" Darren laughs and says, "Absolutely, look at me. You know, I'm a WWE superstar, and to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay and I'm happy."

Darren Young is now the first openly gay wrestler to be a member of the active WWE roster. There have been a few wrestlers to come out, but none on such a big stage. 

Pat Patterson, while never officially "coming out," has never hid his sexual orientation. He wrestled from the 1960s until the 1980s before working in a backstage capacity with WWE. He's best known for being the first-ever Intercontinental Champion and later creating the concept for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. He also made a handful of on-screen appearances in the late 90s as one of Vince McMahon's lackeys.

Chris Klucsartis had a decent mid-card run from 1995-ish until the early 2000s in World Championship Wrestling and WWE under the name Chris Kanyon. He came out in 2006, giving some interviews that implied he was fired from WWE due to being gay. WWE denied the claims. He committed suicide in 2010 while writing his autobiography. "Wrestling Reality" was released a year later.

Orlando Jordan had a small WWE run from 2003 until being released in 2006. He came out as being openly bisexual afterward. As a little bit of a publicity stunt, Jordan created a bisexual character in TNA during a 2010 run. Initially used as a shock-value heel, it didn't get over and he eventually settled into a comedic face role before he was released from TNA.

Young is now the third openly-gay athlete plying his trade in a major organization. Robbie Rogers retired from Major League Soccer and announced his sexual orientation. He then came back to the league a few months later. Jason Collins received a lot of mainstream attention - including a phone call from Barack Obama - when he became the first National Basketball Association star to come out. He is currently not signed to a team but is negotiating and will likely end up with the Brooklyn Nets.

Other wrestlers and personalities have been quick to throw their support to Darren Young. TMZ actually broke the news to John Cena & his girlfriend Nikki Bella on the streets of Los Angeles. The camera man asked Cena if there were any openly gay wrestlers. Cena said no. When the camera man told him about Young's announcement, Cena smiled and said, "Wonderful. Good for him." He later adds, "I know Darren personally and he's a great guy. It's a very bold move for him and congratulations to him for finally actually doing it." The way Cena spoke, it gave the impression that he already knew Young was gay.

Stephanie McMahon on twitter posted: "Congratulations to @DarrenYoungWWE for being the first openly gay WWE superstar."

Triple H also tweeted: "Congratluations, @DarrenYoungWWE for living YOUR life, YOUR way. #proud"

WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart tweeted: "I'm more than proud of Darren Young for having the courage to come out. ... WWE and Pro Wrestling in general have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to accepting sexual orientation."

WWE also covered the announcement on its website, issuing a statement showing their support.

The big question is where does Darren Young's career go from here? Honestly, I don't think it will really go anywhere based on this announcement. He generated a little buzz in 2010 due to his involvement in the white-hot Nexus angle, but that cooled quickly and he never really recovered from it. For the last year or so, he's been featured in a tag team with Titus O'Neil and the two have been just a rung above enhancement talent. If anything, this will likely expand Young's involvement with the WWE's "Be A STAR" anti-bullying campaign, where they speak to children at schools and whatnot.

Hopefully this can lead to more athletes and wrestlers coming out and not being worried about it. I've heard online rumors about one other WWE superstar being gay, so we'll see if anything comes out of that. I mentioned in a previous post that I read wrestler Bob Holly's autobiography recently. What I loved about the book is what also made me hate a portion of it - his bluntness and DILLIGAF attitude. When discussing some wrestlers that he didn't like, he outed one of them as being gay. I had never heard anything about this wrestler being open about his sexuality and it really wasn't Bob Holly's place to decide that people should know about it.

Hopefully Darren Young adding his name to the growing list of openly gay athletes and entertainers will help break down a few more doors so that one day something like this won't be news.

As a bit of a funny ending, it looks like Darren Young's twitter bio will need to be tweaked, as something seems off about it: As comfortable in the VIP section as he is in the ring, Darren Young’s life revolves around three things — money, women and wrestling.

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