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Darren Young: gay and happy
August 15, 2013 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Professional wrestling's relationship with homosexuality and non-heteronormative presentation has long been downright hostile: from Gorgeous George in the 1950s, to "Pretty Boy" Pat Patterson in the 1970s, "Adorable" Adrian Adonis in the 1980s, Golddust in the 1990s, the infamous Billy and Chuck in the 2000s, and even Orlando Jordan in the 2010s, wrestlers who present as effeminate or who "might be gay" have always been portrayed as heels, drawing boos from the crowd. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the suggestion of female homosexuality has been called upon only to titillate. And although former performers like Patterson and the late Chris Kanyon publicly acknowledged their homosexuality after their active careers had ended, and though the WWE recently hired openly-gay retired professional golfer Jane Geddes as VP of Talent Relations, there hasn't been an active, out WWE Superstar until now, when Darren Young, asked if he thought there was a place for a gay wrestler, told TMZ that he's "gay ... and happy."
posted by uncleozzy (40 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
In a world of pink spandex and sweaty men rolling around together, it's all relative though, right?
posted by Rykey at 5:30 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm curious to see how this is received by wrestling fans. Wrestling fans are mostly young, and young people mostly don't have a problem with homosexuality. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be no big deal.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:34 AM on August 15, 2013


I didn't mention this, because it's pure speculation, but I'm half-concerned that this is a work. TMZ has run a lot of kayfabe-blurring WWE stories in the last year or so, which leads me to believe that they're working together in some capacity.

Certainly unless Darren is trying to get out of his contract, the coming-out was vetted by Corporate on some level, but TMZ as the mouthpiece makes me worry that it's going to be part of some truly horrific upcoming storyline.

Wrestling fans are mostly young, and young people mostly don't have a problem with homosexuality

I wouldn't necessarily say this. While the internet smarks are almost exclusively young-ish guys who wouldn't blink at this, there are a lot of "family" viewers, too, from all walks of life. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some blowback from the more conservative "family values" contingent.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:50 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not to mention that wrestling viewers tend to be more rural, Southern, and conservative.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:52 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't mention this, because it's pure speculation, but I'm half-concerned that this is a work.

Agreed. I saw this on TMZ this morning and am very concerned that this is just fuel for an awful, awful Wyatt Family or Jack Swagger storyline.
posted by kimberussell at 5:58 AM on August 15, 2013


So either "part of some truly horrific upcoming storyline" or rhe WWE is totally showing up the NFL...talk about your ultimate sports entertainment lose/win scenario.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:02 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wrestling fans are mostly young

That didn't seem right to me, so I nosed around and found this, from the WWE Corporate site:

Balanced age distribution with 76% of the audience aged 21 or older.

21 % of our audience is under 18 years old
22 % of our audience is 18-34 years old
23 % of our audience is 35-49 years old
34 % of our audience is 50+ years old

...Source: Nielsen Media Research, Galaxy Explorer, 4/1/13-6/30/13


The majority of WWE's audience is over 35 and the biggest group is over 50.
posted by mediareport at 6:10 AM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's all going to depend on how it's booked.

Vince McMahon is not known for his subtlety, and neither are his writers. One of his major superstars coming out would be a very different animal from someone like Young, who's a bit player at best at this stage in his career. Ideally, this should play no role in how Young is handled -- if McMahon thinks "he's gay? That's nice" and books him like he'd book any other wrestler, or says 'Why should that matter?' if asked about it, it would be a good thing for his company.

Someone will bring up safety as a concern at some point or another. It's 2013 -- I would like to think that by this time most people have moved on from the 'gays all carry AIDS' stereotype, and in an industry where blood is an occasional part of the job, I would also like to think that EVERYONE there gets tested at intervals for blood-borne communicable diseases. (Young is a C-list guy at best right now, so the likelihood of him being asked to blade is very very small in the first place, but once in a while performers get busted open by accident.) If not, that is more of a cause for panic among wrestlers than the mere presence of an openly gay coworker.

On the other hand, this _is_ the WWE. If Young shows up after Sunday's PPV in pink chiffon, develops a sudden lisp and tries to kiss John Cena, I would be greatly disappointed. Not stunned, mind you. Just disappointed.
posted by delfin at 6:12 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


yeah - the chances that tmz just happened to ask the one guy ready to come out and that he decided to just say it out of the blue is pretty low, i think. i hope this is all on the up and up - and if it is, i wish people would stop giving these kinds of scoops to paparazzi, especially the ones affiliated with tmz.
posted by nadawi at 6:12 AM on August 15, 2013


Darren Young: Mr. No Gays Off

But seriously that's great. I love the Prime Time Players, Titus and Darren are fantastic and I'd love to see them on TV more.
posted by smackwich at 6:19 AM on August 15, 2013


I would also like to think that EVERYONE there gets tested at intervals for blood-borne communicable diseases. (Young is a C-list guy at best right now, so the likelihood of him being asked to blade is very very small in the first place, but once in a while performers get busted open by accident

I do believe everybody is tested, and blading is on-the-record banned. Guys definitely get opened up the hard way, sometimes accidentally-on-purpose, but the lack of blood in the PG era has been notable.

And I would be absolutely shocked if this hadn't already been an open secret. Like I said, I'm hoping that this isn't a work, but I'm also pretty sure everybody knew it was going to happen. I'd like to see the company not react at all (except by putting Darren into one of the Be a Star promos, I suppose), but I just don't see it happening. I'd like to be surprised.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:21 AM on August 15, 2013


We already know that some big-name wrestlers (IIRC John Cena, The Rock, and CM Punk, for starters) are supporters of the LGBT community outside the ring, it would be nice if some of them--I'm specifically looking at The Rock with one eyebrow raised, here--stopped saying stupidly offensive stuff when they're in character.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:23 AM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


While the internet smarks are almost exclusively young-ish guys who wouldn't blink at this, there are a lot of "family" viewers, too, from all walks of life. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some blowback from the more conservative "family values" contingent.

...

Not to mention that wrestling viewers tend to be more rural, Southern, and conservative.


The longstanding heeldom and success of Jack Swagger, JBL and Kurt Angle show that wrestling viewers will accept even a rural, Southern, and conservative heel, if he acts appropriately heelish. The fact that the two biggest stars in the post-Hulk Hogan era were Steve Austin and the Rock -- who consistently played the exact same character whether they were good guys or bad guys at the moment -- shows that your "gimmick" doesn't make nearly as much of a difference as just whether you're designated as the hero or the villain. If WWE runs with the press and makes Young an out babyface, the vast majority of the fans will shrug and cheer. The occasional "protest" will be lost in the crowd.
posted by Etrigan at 6:26 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Worth noting how the WWE played GLAAD for a fool during the Billy and Chuck thing. GLAAD was promised it would be a wonderfully supporting and positive event and jumped on board, then complained it had been lied to after it turned out the story was they were really still straight and doing it for the publicity.

Also, does anyone else remember another pair of wrestlers played as gay for a few months back in the 90s or early 2000s? I could swear there was another and we even talked about them here a bit - Larry & Lenny? Something like that?
posted by mediareport at 6:28 AM on August 15, 2013


i wish people would stop giving these kinds of scoops to paparazzi, especially the ones affiliated with tmz.

I'm assuming TMZ told him it had evidence and was going to run with the story but offered him the chance to get ahead of it by coming out himself first. I mean, that makes the most sense to me, given that we're talking about TMZ here. I'd be pleasantly surprised if it turns out this was a deliberate choice on Darren Young's part to come out at this particular moment, but I doubt it's what really happened.
posted by mediareport at 6:31 AM on August 15, 2013


does anyone else remember another pair of wrestlers played as gay for a few months back in the 90s or early 2000s? I could swear there was another and we even talked about them here a bit - Larry & Lenny? Something like that?

Yep, Lenny and Lodi. Ugh.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:32 AM on August 15, 2013


Yes! The West Hollywood Blondes! Thank you. I thought I was going crazy. That was a seriously shit storyline, but I remember thinking as it was happening back in 1999 that it had redeeming elements.

Probably the half-naked guys wrestling element.
posted by mediareport at 6:37 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Considering this is professional wresting, I assume the idea will be to generate controversy, not good will. "I'm so straight when I bought my house, the first thing I did was brick up the back door."
posted by three blind mice at 6:52 AM on August 15, 2013


The majority of WWE's audience is over 35 and the biggest group is over 50.

Yeah, I saw that after I made my comment. I wonder if I'm just making assumptions because the demographics felt that way when I was watching wrestling, but that was more than a decade ago when the WWF at least was expressly trying to appeal to 18 year olds.

That said, I think, in part for the reasons Etrigan mentions, that wrestling fans are a more diverse lot than "rural, Southern, conservative" and the reactions to this (assuming it's real and not setting up a storyline) will be interesting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:52 AM on August 15, 2013


A study done indicated that wrestling fans tend to be Democratic in ideology, but non-voting.
posted by winna at 7:04 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of Hard Gay, who, though fun as a wrestler and somewhat shocking as a comedian (both links possibly NSFW), came under criticism after his heterosexual outing and subsequent straight marriage. Though he was never exactly a heel and was briefly somewhat popular, Japanese LGBT groups criticized him for stereotyping gay men and parodying a social minority.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:05 AM on August 15, 2013


A study done indicated that wrestling fans tend to be Democratic in ideology, but non-voting.

For no good reason, this reminds me of the Raw in 2008 when they had the various candidates deliver pre-recorded messages (at the time, Clinton and Obama were still slugging it out for the nomination). I remember Obama being the one who appeared to be having the most fun with it; I had been intending to vote for him anyway, but then he ended his promo with, "If you smell what Barack is cookin'," and it was the best thing.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:06 AM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


One of his major superstars coming out would be a very different animal from someone like Young, who's a bit player at best at this stage in his career.

Agreed. Describing Darren Young as an "active WWE Superstar" might be technically accurate, but it's charitable. I don't know the last time Young appeared on television, but it's been three years since he was anywhere near a significant storyline. He's not even a mid-card attraction.

Presumably someday there will be landmark news in this regard, but this ain't it.

If you smell what Barack is cookin'

Is it drone strikes? It smells like drone strikes.
posted by cribcage at 7:07 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it drone strikes? It smells like drone strikes.

You've got to admit, it's a hell of a finisher.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:09 AM on August 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Describing Darren Young as an "active WWE Superstar" might be technically accurate, but it's charitable

The PTP had a pretty okay run last year that was spoiled by AW's comments, and while sure, they're not big news, fans of all stripes at least know who they are. Would it be news if an MLB backup catcher, virtually-unknown outside his local market, came out? Of course it would.

While what Darren has to lose is small in comparison to a top-level guy, or even a midcarder like, say, Kofi Kingston, whose merchandise sales must be gargantuan, he's still a public face of the company, and belittling this move because he's not The Rock is sort of petty.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:21 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


belittling this move because he's not The Rock is sort of petty.

That's an ironic adjective in this context, since it's kind of the point.
posted by cribcage at 7:26 AM on August 15, 2013


Update: white Darren Young reacts.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:26 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


'Superstar' is a perfectly reasonable description. It's like when you're hanging out with Andy Warhol or appearing in a porno movie--in the WWE, everyone's a superstar.
posted by box at 7:48 AM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Really happy for Darren Young. As someone who enjoys the Prime Time Players and wishes they'd be given license to do what they do best/an actual storyline or feud, I hope this pushes them back into the spotlight. It's also nice to see that the company is (at least publicly) supporting him.
posted by HostBryan at 7:55 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Presumably someday there will be landmark news in this regard, but this ain't it.

Sitting at the front of a bus isn't as big a deal as being President of the United States, either. I think there's room for appreciating the courage it takes someone like Young to come out.
posted by Etrigan at 8:06 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would it be news if an MLB backup catcher, virtually-unknown outside his local market, came out? Of course it would.

While what Darren has to lose is small in comparison to a top-level guy, or even a midcarder like, say, Kofi Kingston, whose merchandise sales must be gargantuan, he's still a public face of the company, and belittling this move because he's not The Rock is sort of petty.


I won't belittle the move at all, and furthermore do recognize that it IS newsworthy specifically because homosexuality has such a stigma attached to it in American sports and sport-like activities. Would Darren or aforementioned backup catcher be the first practicing* homosexuals at that level in their leagues? Of course not. But they would be the first ones to come out and say "yep, this is who I am" while still active, which speaks volumes about how closeted American sports really are.

* Not everyone needs practice. Some people are just naturally good at it.

Meanwhile, in Japan... and Mexico...
posted by delfin at 10:22 AM on August 15, 2013


this thread needs MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
posted by mightygodking at 12:48 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


From WWE.com:

On TMZ this morning, WWE Superstar Darren Young (Fred Rosser) revealed to the WWE Universe that he is gay. WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar. Today, in fact, Darren will be participating in one of our Be A STAR anti-bullying rallies in Los Angeles to teach children how to create positive environments for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation.


I am often surprised by this brave new world we live in, and every so often it's even a pleasant one.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:53 PM on August 15, 2013 [10 favorites]



this thread needs MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS yt
posted by mightygodking at 3:48 PM on August 15 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!] No other comments.


"Finally some charisma around here!"
posted by oceanjesse at 1:56 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


... and Matt Lauer gets an interview.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:39 AM on August 16, 2013


And now Stone Cold Steve Austin voices support for same-sex marriage. And he doesn't mince his words about "that religious horseshit" either.
posted by dnash at 8:04 AM on August 16, 2013


Who's the other guy talking to Stone Cold? I love that he uses the phrase "gay sex marriage."
posted by roll truck roll at 8:17 AM on August 16, 2013


I'm not sure. It seems to be an excerpt from a podcast Austin has started doing but it's on a blog by way of a YouTube-r, and neither has posted which episode of the podcast it's from.
posted by dnash at 8:40 AM on August 16, 2013


According the the caption, the other voice is Ted Fowler. I have no idea who that is. (I assume it's not the President and CEO of Golden Corral.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:05 AM on August 16, 2013


Darren Young the gay, I respect him for he honest

The Iron Sheik never fails to astound me.
posted by Etrigan at 10:46 AM on August 16, 2013


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