Professional wrestling became the latest sport (“sport,” if you prefer) to break down the barrier facing gay male athletes Wednesday, when World Wrestling Entertainment’s Darren Young came out as gay during an interview with TMZ.
A TMZ cameraman began an airport interview with Young by asking if WWE would tolerate openly gay wrestlers. Young caught him off guard when he came out himself. “Absolutely. Look at me,” Young said. “I’m a WWE Superstar and to be honest with you, I’ll tell you right now I’m gay and I’m happy. Very happy.”
Young treated the coming out as no big deal. “You know, to be honest with you, I’m happy with myself. Some people might not like it, some people will like it but I’m here to please myself,” he said. “I’m here to be happy and it’s very important that I’m happy with myself. I’m hoping to be able to make a difference, you know? It’s very important to me that people understand that someone’s sexual preference shouldn’t really matter. It should be about the person.”
Professional wrestling once had an oddly homophobic culture, with characters like Dustin Rhodes’ Goldust making suggestive overtures toward his opponents in an effort to gain an edge over them in competition. In recent years, though, WWE has taken a more progressive stance on LGBT issues, participating in anti-bullying campaigns and partnering with GLAAD to improve its programming and promote LGBT rights. WWE issued a statement supporting Young after he came out.
“WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar,” the organization said in a statement, noting that Young was scheduled to participate in a WWE-sponsored anti-bullying event later today. Other wrestlers, including John Cena, also applauded the decision.