The actions taken by Darren Young in stepping out of the closet were a major step forward in the treatment of homosexuals in the professional wrestling business. The outpouring of public support from those in the industry has truly been a sight to behold.
While the show of support is a great moment for this business, there has been a underlying tone to the proceedings that is troubling. Among the congratulations for Young are aggrandizing statements about the relationship between professional wrestling and homosexuality.
Statements such as these:
Im more than proud of Darren Young for having the courage to come out. The trust is that WWE & Pro Wrestling in general have long been ahead
Im more than proud of Darren Young for having the courage to come out. The trust is that WWE & Pro Wrestling in general have long been ahead— Bret Hart (@BretHart) August 15, 2013
.. of the curve when it comes to accepting sexual orientations
.. of the curve when it comes to accepting sexual orientations— Bret Hart (@BretHart) August 15, 2013
Statements such as Hart's are troubling because it paints a false picture of the wrestling industry's troubled past with homosexuality. WWE and the wrestling industry has a right to be proud that the environment has emerged in which a WWE wrestler can come out publicly as a homosexual and receive such a warm reception. This pride though should not lead to a redrafting of history.
It is important that we do not forget the struggles of wrestlers such as Chris Kanyon in our celebrations of professional wrestling's new chapter with homosexuality. Kanyon, upon proposing that he become the first openly homosexual active wrestler, was forced to dress up as Boy George and come out of a package into the hands of a brutal beating from the Undertaker. This treatment at the hands of a WWE now being painted as "ahead of the curve" could have exacerbated Kanyon's struggles with bipolar disorder and contributed to the mental anguish that lead to multiple suicide attempts (of which one was finally successful in 2010).
Even more recent were the struggles of Orlando Jordan in both WWE and TNA with trying to get a similar angle launched and backstage heat in both companies over his sexuality. When TNA finally ran with Jordan as an openly bisexual character it was a disgustingly stereotypical portrayal that seemed combed from the depths of Fred Phelps' mind.
I am not trying to rain on the parade of what is an absolutely triumphant moment for Darren Young and the wrestling business. It is just important to remember that this moment is so great because of how far the business has come from its dark history with homosexuality.