Question: is WWE ‘ahead of the curve when it comes to accepting sexual orientations’?

 

Reading that couldn’t help but remind any wrestling fan both of the scores of gay jokes used in storyline to imply that someone is “less of a man”, and of the real-life tragedy of Chris Kanyon.

His book Wrestling Reality is incredibly moving, and he suggests that because people suspected he was gay, he was given the character of a gay professional wrestler to taunt him.

Shortly after leaving WWE, he reports that he told an Ontario crowd that he was not fired due to cutbacks but due to his sexuality.

On the Howard Stern show, Ric Flair argued WWE’s case against Kanyon, pointing out that “there are very successful people in wrestling right now who are gay.”

Kanyon replied: “Yes, but they are not openly gay.”

I absolutely believe Bret Hart to be honest in his tweets – just as I was happy to see so many wrestlers congratulate Darren Young and commend his courage.

But as I said on Thursday, there’s still a lot of covert, unacknowledged fear of homosexuality – not just in wrestling, but in society at large. (Indeed, Hart’s own autobiography happily tells of the times he punched gay men for making a pass at him, but he always let the ladies down gently.)

Many people reject the idea that sports stars can be role models, or indeed the idea that role models are important. These are probably people who also like to chirp, “Just work hard and you can achieve your dream!”

Kanyon did that. And his dream became a nightmare. Yes, it was for various reasons – he admits as much, and is honest about his mental health problems – but being a closeted gay man afraid to come out because of the reaction he’d get was a contributory factor.

Now young gay people can see Darren Young on TV and think, “I could work for WWE” – that barrier is starting to crumble.

So for all the people continuing to complain about Darren Young’s interview from Thursday, whining that they “don’t care” and “it doesn’t matter”, I can only refer them to Kanyon’s own words:

“I guess I just want to help as many people as I can, because I know that if there was an openly gay wrestler – or a gay person in any sport or job that I could look up to – it would have made it easier for me.”

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