When Darren Young finally decided to reveal his sexuality, he did so in a hush-hush interview. But the repercussions were felt throughout the world of sports entertainment.
Asked by a TMZ photographer if a gay wrestler could flourish in the WWE, Young (born Fredrick Douglas Rosser in 1983) responded in the affirmative.
Darren Young's Twitter Account
"Absolutely. Look at me. I'm a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay. And I'm happy. I'm very happy," Young told TMZ on Thursday morning.
Upon learning of Young's declaration, the WWE released a statement, supporting one of its rising stars. "WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar."
Current WWE world champion John Cena also expressed his support and admiration.
"Darren's a great guy. That's a very bold move for him... For us, it's entertainment, and if you're entertaining, you shouldn't be judged by race, creed, color, or sexuality," Cena said in an interview with TMZ.
Other personalities in WWE tweeted their congratulations:
Congratulations to @DarrenYoungWWE for being the first openly gay WWE Superstar!
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) August 15, 2013
Congratulations, @DarrenYoungWWE for living YOUR life, YOUR way. #proud — Triple H (@TripleH) August 15, 2013
— Titus O'Neil (@TitusONeilWWE) August 15, 2013
While the WWE is known for its brawny, muscular participants, it also draws inspiration from other performing arts. For instance, actions done in character - known as kayfabe - require a great deal of rehearsal, and not just in the gym.
Young's coming out comes on the heels of two high-profile admissions this year: NBA center Jason Collins and footballer Robbie Rogers, both of whom are active athletes and free agents. In the WWE universe, only two wrestlers have actually come out: Pat Patterson, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996, and Chris Kanyon, who outed himself in 2006, five years before committing suicide in 2011.
Interestingly enough, Young's Twitter profile still reads like a stereotypical wrestler's: "As comfortable in the VIP section as he is in the ring, Darren Young's life revolves around three things - money, women and wrestling." While the WWE superstar is still acting in character, he has taken steps to soften his image outside the ring - the company announced on Thursday that Young will be participating in the Be A STAR programme, which aims to teach appreciation of diversity and to eliminate bullying among young people.
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