There has been a long-time untold tradition of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in professional entertainment wrestling. Long time fans and entertainers have come to understand that the personal life of wrestlers do not come into play with smack-talking and smack-downs. Recently, WWE wrestler Darren Young and friend of John Cena’s, revealed to TMZ he was gay. The admirable athlete provided the information in a nonchalant fashion when TMZ prompted “if he thought a gay wrestler could be successful?”
Young responded openly without restraint, “Absolutely,” Young replied. “Look at me. I’m a WWE Superstar and, to be honest with you right now, I’ll tell you I’m gay and I’m happy. Very happy.” TMZ reports. The wrestler continued, stating, “Some people might not like it, some people will like it,” he said. “But I’m here to be happy. It’s very important I’m happy with myself.”
This is the first open admission from any pro-wrestler in entertainment wrestling, and one that will fuel controversy for days to come. In wrestling solidarity, John Cena responded to TMZ stating to the celebrity outlet, “I know Darren personally. Darren’s a great guy. That’s a very bold move for him. And congratulations for him for actually finally doing it.”
In a quote everyone can agree with, Cena told TMZ “For us, it’s entertainment … and if you’re entertaining you shouldn’t be judged by race, creed, color or sexuality … as long as you’re entertaining.” The admission is a surprising one, because Young made no excuses for it, which made the announcement, well refreshing. Far too often, celebrities are caught in crux or take to a stage to admit they are gay, fearing the worst from the public.
Young responded during an informal interview with TMZ, leaving even the camera man to seek a composing response. This reaction from the shock-seeking celebrity outlet creates a grin and slap on the back for Young, by many supportive fans. For decades, gay actors and entertainers have been forced to stay closeted in fear of denial from fans and the public.
The Bleacher Report reminds many that NBA center Jason Collins splashed open the path for gay athletes to be open and honest in their life and sport. Like Young, Collins also responded to TMZ in a more informal approach. The appeal of the outlet, in your face and unapologetic, seems like a complementary way for celebrities to feel comfortable enough to be comfortable with who they are.
Earlier this year, Cageside Seats, an online publication of all things surrounding entertainment wrestling, discussed a full spread on being gay in WWE. Cageside Seats regarded the experience of former WWE wrestler Chris Kanyon when he decided to step into the spotlight and out of the closet:
He came out to the company and pitched a unique angle to the WWE creative team of being the first non-stereotypical, openly gay wrestler, but that idea fell on deaf ears. This eventually led to one of the most mean-spirited and reckless burials in company history for reasons that have never been adequately explained.
Kanyon’s character was ripped continuously on the national spotlight, mockery at his disclosure of his true sexuality. The wrestler attempted suicide in 2003, reports Cageside seats. Sadly, in 2010 a second attempt was successful and the young wrestler was found dead in his apartment, by his brother with an empty bottle of anti-depressants near his body.
Hopefully, with such courageous friends like John Cena, and an unapologetic attitude, Darren Young will remain safe from attacks from inside the industry. His admission surprised many in and out of the industry, but the young and talented wrestler deserves mega kudos for stepping out, instead of hiding back.