Why coming out matters, in wrestling, in 2013
Hello there. My name is Lonestar. My real name is Chris. It’s not the most exciting name in the world, but it’s the only one I’ve got. I am heterosexual, a trait I was in fact born with, the consequences of which mean I’m attracted to women and do not actually know what it’s like to be gay. I am, however, a man who has spent a lot of time in the performing arts and animal husbandry fields, industries which for whatever reason tend to support some of the stereotypes attributed to them. As in, there be gays on stage and in your animal shelter. So I guess you could say I’m at least familiar with the common struggles of the gay people, unique and different as they individually are. For this reason, and because I sense that someone in the wrestling blog-o-sphere needs to explain this, I will attempt to help you understand why a wrestler/basketball player/celebrity/anyone coming out as gay in 2013 matters.
Do you remember what middle school was like? If you’re like me it was a pit of loathing and self-doubt posing as an educational facility, filled with nasty, hormone-driven assholes that doubled as your classmates. If you’re like my younger brother it was suddenly where people gave a s**t about what you wore, what you liked, what you did and who you were and judged you accordingly. Different was bad and since you were different, suddenly you were bad. If this wasn’t your experience, congratulations, you were the cool kid and either everyone liked you or you were too blissfully confident to know otherwise.
If you are gay, you are never the cool kid. Even in 2013. Chances are you either get to deal with the anxieties that come with realizing you’re really not like everybody else or a significant number of people f**king hate you. They may or may not say they hate you, but they’ve got a myriad of ways to let you know. They might ask you why you are interested in certain things or dress a certain way, possibly even insult you on the subject. They might want you to hide the truth about yourself because they think what you are is bad, or sinful or not appropriate for children. They might support government legislation that gives them one thing but gives you something far inferior. Or they might just outright and systemically make the slang terms for your sexuality synonymous with “bad” or “stupid” or “inferior”.
That’s a pretty heavy thing, to live in a society where enough people turn whatever you are into “bad” and casually toss that phrase into everyday conversation. That’s what you live in. You are bad and they are good and you should be ashamed and quiet. And sometimes that’s what you die in, because gays still die in 2013 because they are gay, whether it’s by the hands of people who hate them or because they’ve taken their own lives rather than be themselves.
Darren Young being an openly gay professional wrestler, employed by the biggest professional wrestling company on the planet makes him another in a long line of people that shatter the myths of “you can’t” or “there aren’t”, myths that attempt to corral people of different sexual and gender identities into tired and inaccurate roles or jobs, myths that continue to be perpetuated in our supposedly post-gay world. More importantly, Young being openly gay cuts another chip into the armor of prejudice and hatred, because people don’t stop hating other people until they realize that they’re not all that fundamentally different from themselves, often because they discover that someone they know and care about is that thing they hate or are uncomfortable towards. Darren Young probably won’t change many in the WWE Universe in regards to their views on homosexuality but he can affect some of the millions of people that follow the product and that’s wildly important. His action was small (and in response to a question, I might add) but every small thing can become bigger in time, and even after a day we’ve seen Young’s statement create an impact. The conversation of gay has gracefully come to the WWE and some of its biggest names have spoken out to say “gay is okay”, including John Cena, who also revealed that one of his brothers is gay and well supported. That would be the face of the company and the guy selling all those youth-sized t-shirts promoting acceptance towards others.
That’s why this whole thing is newsworthy. Because before today there was no one in wrestling and now there is Darren Young, fighting the good fight for acceptance and compassion against stereotyping and hatred by simply existing as he is, entering the war for gay equality that you’d better believe is still being fought and will continue to fought until all gay boys or girls can grow up without fear of prejudice or rejection.
That is why is we’re talking about it. That is why we care.