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Stephanie McMahon promises WWE will ‘integrate LGBT characters into our programming’

Beyond Sport United Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Speaking to NBC News about Pat Patterson’s recently released autobiography Accepted, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon vowed that WWE will be a leader in LGBT inclusivity throughout their product line.

McMahon, who also plays a character on Raw, said that the company has always been inclusive behind the scenes, but they’re now working to move that acceptance onto screens where fans can see it:

Throughout my life I have grown up knowing gay Superstars and executives. It's always been accepted, but now it's about getting that message out there.

We will integrate LGBT characters into our programming ... and I do think there will be an opportunity to integrate some of those storylines in the near future.

The message comes shortly after there was a small internet backlash to a recent promo by Enzo Amore & Big Cass - babyfaces - making fun of their opponents Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens for appearing like Sesame Street characters Burt & Ernie, who’ve long been discussed as portraying a gay couple by everyone other than that show’s creators.

And the Realest Guys are far from some kind of outlier. Look back on pro wrestling history, and most of your favorite promos or angles probably feature someone either calling or alluding to their opponent being a homosexual or “overly” feminine. And it’s often a good guy insulting the villain.

Defenders say it’s all in good fun, or that wrestling isn’t unique in this regard. But it’s the kind of stuff that will either need to be taken out or better counter-balanced if WWE is to credibly preach a message of acceptance.

McMahon doesn’t directly address those criticisms, but does point to steps they’re taking which could cut down on or eliminate lines of dialogue like Amore’s:

We've had GLAAD come in and speak to our entire writing team and give a whole tutorial on sensitivities, the right words, the wrong word [and] why those words matters. I think that with their guidance and support, we will be able to portray that [LGBT storyline] appropriately.

It’s a worthwhile goal to shoot for, both in terms of being the right thing to do and growing their global brand to be more attractive to advertisers.

But Steph and her allies in the effort are swimming against the currents of history and ingrained attitudes.

Stay tuned.

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