Darren Young, Hero?
This week, Darren Young became the first openly gay professional wrestler working for the WWE, when he came out to a reporter from TMZ. A couple people have been trying to redirect the hype from this incident by reminding us that Orlando Jordan and Pat Patterson have both been openly gay for quite a long time. While this is true, we all know wrestling has a very short attention span. The WWE that Patterson and Jordan wrestled for no longer exists. They're in the "Be a STAR" and "Superstars for Hope" business now, and for all intents and purposes, Darren Young is the first of this generation to come out as a hero for this cause.
Caution: things are about to get preachy up in here.
The very phrase "coming out of the closet" frustrates me to no end. So does the "straight" distinction. In the British sense of the phrase, the words "straight" and "bent" have been used for a long while to crudely distinguish between hetero and homosexual. I'm not British, and I have no colloquial perspective on this, so I'm not going to deal with it. But in America, the term "straight" started circulating in the 1950s, first in a scientific study of sexual variants, and then adopted by the Protestant church and the newly adopted American Catholic Church. Almost all of the first documented cases of the word "straight" breaking into the mainstream came from church leaders and their sermons on turning the gay community to the "straight and narrow" path to salvation, as outlined in the biblical gospel of Matthew.
What I'm saying is, acknowledging heterosexual men like myself as "straight" is, even if no ill intention was meant, an accusation that those who do not uphold the same sexual lifestyle are, in no uncertain terms, wrong. That they are not on the "straight and narrow", and therefore will inherit judgement from on high. And people ask me why I don't subscribe to this junk…
Darren Young is a hero. At the very least, he's got more courage than anybody I've seen step up in that locker room in a very long time. You can try and cover up what he did by calling it "blown out of proportion" or a "work" to get him over. I don't buy that. I'm friends with several gay individuals, and I'm not sure any of them exposed their sexuality, or would do so, for the sake of getting ahead in the world.
The very fact that we can call what Darren did "coming out" is part of the reason I label him a hero. Nobody should have to hide who they are. Nobody should have to "come out" at all. Many of us live in a country founded on principles of freedom, and the lifelong pursuit of happiness. Anyone who has to live a part of their life "in the closet" for fear of how friends, family or even the general public will react is being denied their basic constitutional rights. Sure, it's usually their choice to remain quiet, but that's like blaming slaves for not fighting back for fear of being killed, during another great period of failure in our nation's long history of being terrible at interacting with human beings.
I'm a middle class, white heterosexual male – I will never know what it's like to experience real intolerance because of my race, gender, sexual preference or any of my other attributes. In a very small way I can relate to how strangers on the internet treat those who are overweight; the extreme ignorance and disrespect still pales in comparison to what in-closet homosexuals have to deal with on a daily basis. I can't speak on why Darren came out, but it's created headlines, spotlighted a necessary cause, and done more good than getting drunk and marching half-naked in parades once a year will ever do.
There needs to be more outspoken gay professional wrestlers. There needs to be more outspoken gay athletes, in general. The same goes for various other level of celebrity, whether you be a movie star, an artist, musician or politician. John Cena, Titus O'Neil and other various Superstars have been absolutely perfect in handling the situation. WWE Superstars inspire millions of children and young men and women on a daily basis – a fact some of our more grown, jaded fans have forgotten. Darren Young is now a symbol, and success story for any young individual who feels persecuted for something they, in most cases, cannot control. If what he did saves just one kid from depression, or god forbid, taking his life because of the way society so recklessly treats people who are different, than Darren Young deserves the title of "hero".