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Wrestling With Homosexuality

There are some subjects in wrestling that seem to be considered somewhat of a taboo to talk about. It isn't just wrestling where it seems to be a taboo as it seems to be in all forms of life, sports, and entertainment, but wrestling and sport doesn't appear to have caught up with the times as much as some other industries. It struck me this morning that while I was thinking of topics to write about today (I was thinking of a piece on stereotypes at the time and somehow got onto this in my mind) that there is a lack of openly homosexual wrestlers within the industry, let alone active ones that feel they can be open about it. Surely there must be a reason for this and I wonder why something that appears to be almost talked about around the world so openly on a daily basis still seems to be somewhat still ignored and not confronted in sport and wrestling.

Darren Young

When Darren Young came out as gay last year I must admit I was a little taken back and didn't see it coming. But at the same time I thought it took tremendous courage to do something so bold in an industry that has a history of not seeming to want to broach the subject. The number of openly homosexual wrestlers in the industry is minimal with only eleven in the industry, past or present, ever having openly declared their preference. The only active names are Darren Young, Rosa Mendes, and independent wrestler Cassandro. The other names including Pat Patterson, the Grand Wizard Ernie Roth, Chris Kanyon, Terry Garvin, Jim Barnett, and Orlando Jordan are all no longer active or have sadly passed away. When you put that number into perspective that is a very small portion of performers in the industry who are open to declare their sexuality for all to see. Wrestling isn't the only sport where homosexuality seems to be a taboo as how many sports stars can you name that are openly homosexual? It's a stigma that appears to have spread throughout sport and I believe wrestling should take a stand to buck the trend.

WWE have teased a homosexual edge in a character previously with the original Goldust, who pushed so many peoples' buttons when it came to his in ring actions against his opponents and was met with some serious resistance in the back and from fans. I've heard stories of some wrestlers getting hot at Goldust for some of the things he would do in the ring while Ahmed Johnson would go crazy on screen as part of a story when given mouth to mouth by Goldust. Maybe it's the reaction of the fans and boys in the back from an era when it wasn't so openly accepted that still makes some wrestlers hesitant to be so open about their sexuality because over time WWE would distance itself from the homosexuality of the character due to the controversy it bought them. The subject has always been a taboo for many within the industry as look how long it took for Pat Patterson to finally find the courage to confirm what we all knew anyway in Legends House in 2014, and during Patterson's era it would have been an even more delicate subject. Attitudes to homosexuality don't appear to have changed in the industry despite society being more acknowledging and accepting of it.

Original Goldust

WWE doesn't seem to have managed to successfully create a character that appeals to this demographic of their audience and I'm struggling to see why in this modern world that this isn't something WWE has embraced. After all the company wants to promote and encourage anti-bullying through their Be A Star campaign, so why not use that as a stepping stone to create a homosexual, heck even bisexual character. I'm not saying they have to be in your face about it, parading around and being loud while flaunting it in the fans faces, but just acknowledge it in the very least in some way. It's almost like the industry is afraid to accept and embrace this change even though it would like to paint a picture that this isn't the case. Look at Darren Young as a prime example in the modern product. He came but openly as gay on Twitter, and WWE even acknowledged it but there has never once been a mention of Young's sexuality on television. The same can be said for Rosa Mendes, who openly outed herself as bisexual on Total Divas, but her sexuality again is never mentioned. I'm not saying they have to change the characters look or how they come across, but why not use that as part of the characters appeal? It's not going to hurt anyone or anything in the long run is it.

To the companies credit WWE has tried to integrate homosexuality into its characters and story lines in the past but they perhaps haven't gone about the subject in the right way. Billy and Chuck were the subject of one of WWE's most memorable story lines during 2002 that would see them paired with their new manager Rico, who would push the two men into almost committing themselves to one another during a "commitment ceremony". The story line received the backing of GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) at the time but the ceremony never quite ended with Billy and Chuck committing themselves to one another and announcing that they were not gay, before Eric Bischoff revealed himself as the priest in disguise and Three Minute Warning would make their debut, beating the pair and Rico down. While the story line infuriated many fans it is still one of the most memorable moments in Smackdown history. Trish Stratus and Mickie James also had lip locking moment under the Christmas mistletoe during 2002, while Mark Henry got more than he bargained for with a transsexual named Sammy during 1998. It's a subject WWE seems to have bought into story lines during it's history but nothing has ever been done in terms of the company creating a fully homosexual character.

Rosa Mendes

So what does the future hold in terms of change in the industry and within WWE? I think the biggest thing right now is for those who have remained silent to hopefully find their voice and be more open about their sexuality. It should not make a difference to fans, to management, or to anyone what these men and women have a preference for outside of the squared circle. I think as the years go on we will see a shift across the industry and more openly homosexual characters will make their way onto our screens and toward the top of the company. While it seems there is still some way to go in terms of the industry breaking down a taboo barrier it seems that slowly but surely things are taking a step in the right direction.

If you have something to say on this subject then please leave your thoughts in the comments section below, or hit me up on Twitter, and give me a follow while your there on the username @jamie_welton. Or if that's not your scene why not stop by the WWENews.Net Facebook page and give us your thoughts and give us a like.

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  • BIG M

    I think we can safely say in the over 100 years of pro wrestling history Im sure there have been many men and women who were Gay/Lesbian or Bisexual.
    But the list of Wrestlers choosing to come out of the closet is sadly a very short one.

    While we can all agree the industry still has a ways to go before all workers can be open about who or what they are without fear or being Harassed/Bullied or discriminated against Darren Young coming out did help things a lot simply by way of getting people talking about it.

    But at the same time I think we have to remember that we shouldn’t make people feel pressured to make their sexual preferences public because at the end of the day whether your Gay, Straight or Bi who you chose to spend your nights with is nobodies business but your own.

    Remember people its called “Private Life” for a reason.

    • I agree with you Big M, it is a private life and should someone choose not to be open about their sexuality that’s their choice. But I do believe there is a section of talent that fear saying anything because they don’t want to be held back or have it affect them.

      We could learn a lot from the Darren Young situation but I fear nothing will change in the long run which is sad.

      • BIG M

        Yeah I get that.
        But I think we can agree it’s not as bad as it once was and that’s maybe a start towards changing the industries attitude.
        And from what I’ve read Young was really suprised about the amount of support and encouragement he got from most workers backstage and even from WWE’s higher ups think Stephanie McMahon even voiced her support on Twitter.
        Call me niave but maybe things are starting to slowly change for the better already.
        At least I hope they are.

    • Xavier

      Agreed

  • Bob

    All I will say is just another horrible piece by you. I stopped reading your anti WWE rants and now I see you have stooped lower and you produce more in your face homosexual garbage. I was curious so read this but it was what I thought it would be. You are driving readers away from this site as are a few other writers. Your opinion articles are poorly written and not entertaining. I come to these sites for news and that is it. Not everyone embraces such behavior. It is unnatural in all aspects. Call me names like leftists love to do but folks like me keep quiet too often. What you should have done is to have kept thinking today and before you put this out.

    • Lee Herbert

      Wow. Quite the homophobic bigot we have here.

      • BIG M

        Sadly theirs always one on msg boards for articles like this.
        Best thing to do is ignore them and hope site moderators decide to delete his stupid comments.

    • I apologise if my piece offends you, however I don’t feel it is homosexual garbage, and nor have I constantly slated WWE in articles. I love WWE and have for over twenty years. I’m a passionate fan and I don’t intend for my opinions to come across as negative at all.

      These posts are my owner personal thoughts, not that of WNW or any other staff. While I’m disappointed to hear you don’t enjoy my pieces I don’t think I will be losing any sleep over you no longer reading my pieces.

      If you feel you could do something different and bring more to the site why not apply for a role as a writer? I’m sure you could show me and the others how it’s done right.

      • Moose

        Jamie, as I have stated before, I do not consider myself a professional writer in a setting such as this. However, I have to write for a living in a different setting and I found your piece very well written. I also thought it was well thought out and it was obvious you put a great deal of time into it. While we all had to start somewhere, I tend to be skeptical regarding folks with one post.

    • Jesse Sherwood

      Bob, if this type of piece offends you, then I must suggest you do some soul searching yourself. It’s people like you that can’t tolerate someone who is in the slightest bit different from their idealized set of beliefs that is causing many of the issues in the world today. As your comments seem to lead, I am betting you view yourself as a right wing Christian conservative. If so, then may I offer one piece of advice. The bible says to love everyone as you love yourself. That doesn’t mean just those who hold the same rubric you follow, but all people. Black, white, gay, straight, man, woman, and child. All are the same in God’s eyes. Thus, they should be the same in yours.

    • You were the one who claimed that we were going to call names, by calling names yourself. Well, I’m going to take the high road and do nothing but support Jamie, as I do all my writers, and tell you that if you attack one of my writers personally again, you will be done here. I do not accept ANYONE attacking my writers, but as there’s a dialog started, I will hold off.

      I’m very proud of all my writers, and Jamie is one of my best here. If you have an issue with his articles, then you need to leave. I support Jamie in all he does, as I do all my writers. This is an opinion article, as it’s tagged – if you’d actually spent the time to check before out and out attacking. This is a fantastic, and OBVIOUSLY well thought out article, but you can only see your own prejudists.

      • Confused

        Disappointed my comment was censored here. I made no aggressive or distasteful remarks. I was not rude or offensive. I simply questioned your post and overreaction and I get deleted for that? Is that what happens when people question mods here?

        Please let me know if that is the case and I will refrain from posting here and entering in any kind of debate – especially if comments mods don’t like are removed. I wouldn’t want to waste my time on such a totalitarian website.

        • Jesse Sherwood

          No, it was flagged in our system, and Disqus automatically removed it. The mods did nothing with it.

    • Avalanchian

      I doubt the readers are driven away. You just have to think with an open mind on some topics instead of being so narrow minded. I love the people that post here regularly even if we disagree at times.

    • Morgan “The Retro Goat” Hench

      If anything, I’m proud of Jaime for stating the obvious that homosexuality shouldn’t be something to hide in fear.

      Do I agree with every point in every article? Not at all. But I do not believe in the slightest that his OPINION articles are driving anyone away. Richard wanted more content because slow news days means two articles in four days. Jaime and the other writers help the issue by writing opinion pieces for the viewing pleasure of those who desire it.

      And not everyone embraces homosexuality? While I by no means claim to think for the site, I’d like to believe most if not all of the writers aren’t going to be particularly heartbroken about homophobes not wanting to come here any more.

      • Thanks Morgan, appreciate you taking the time to comment and read the piece

    • thefen2001

      Articles like this are the reason I keep coming back to this site. Many of the writers and their readers have opinions which they like to share in a mature and engaging fashion without degrading anyone and griping. As for ‘You are driving readers away from this site as are a few other writers. ‘ Where does that come from? I don’t comment very often but when I do it is because the debate is open and interesting and free of soap-boxing. So please, Bob, get off your high-horse. If you don’t like it, stop reading it, move on to the next article like the rest of us.

  • Snap

    I wouldn’t go so far as using the original incarnation of Goldust as a character with a homosexual edge, as the character was a predatory portrayal which was likely designed to generate heat. I doubt that approach is something which went over well with the LBGT community. I also distinctly remember Jerry Lawler ripping on Goldust for (please forgive me for repeating the offensive comment) “kissing boys like a flaming f-g!” Even Jim Ross would make jokes about Pat Patterson on commentary when Patterson would be depicted as a buffoon during his Stooge run with quips like “He’s single, guys!” Of course, I’m not intending to attack JR here rather just pointing out that WWE, at least, has tended to use homosexuality (whether openly admitted or not) as a form of ridicule.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less whether an athlete is homosexual or not, there are a lot of homosexual actors who are great at their craft so other than the “jock mentality” which is prevalent within the WWE locker room at least, I don’t see any reason why an athlete shouldn’t come out if they are comfortable with how they live their life. What I don’t and will never agree with, however, is an athlete’s sexuality being a deciding factor on whether they are pushed or not, or used as rationalizations for being signed in the first place.

    I do not believe creating a character with blatant homosexual tendencies is a way to combat the taboo or to exploit for their Be a STAR program because, when you think about it, you never see any emphasis made about wrestlers who are heterosexual because it’s no big deal. In my mind, it should be no big deal that another wrestler is homosexual. Whether they’re Caucasian or people of colour, heterosexual or homosexual or whatever their personal religious beliefs, that shouldn’t really matter if they have what it takes to be on that roster. It’s true equality which needs to be presented, not an overcompensation for the archaic mentality of the past. If a character were to be homosexual, it’s no big deal and we wouldn’t need Michael Cole or any other announcer beating that fact over our heads every chance they get (as WWE never does anything in moderation) as though it should affect how the audience feels about the character.

    • Thanks for reading Snap. I remember how they referred to Goldust back in the day and that’s not the kind of thing we need to see again.

      I think if someone like Michael Cole even had just acknowledged Youngs tweet when it happened it would hav been a step forward. Instead nothing was really said about it and it was kinda glossed over. It doesn’t have to be in your face stuff but it would have been nice to hear just something.

  • Dave Barton

    I’m all about equal opportunities across the board in wrestling, as long as a performer can get over with the fans. A couple standouts on this subject…

    The Rock was the first part-black WWF Champion. He wasn’t given the title because he was part-black, he wasn’t kept away from the title because he was part-black, he flat out earned his WWF titles regardless of his ancestry because he was that damn good of a performer when it came to his character.

    Pat Patterson was well-known by “the boys” to be gay (even if he didn’t publicly “come out” until Legends House). He wasn’t given any titles (or allowed to book so many events) because he was gay, he wasn’t prevented from winning any titles (or booking events) because he was gay. He succeeded because he was so damn good at his job.

    So this leaves me with a bit of mixed feelings. Should a performer (regardless of orientation) become an openly gay character? What would it accomplish? How would he/she connect with the fans in a way that was different from an openly straight character? Essentially, what would they do differently on-screen that would make them more popular? At the end of the day, it’s live athletic theater looking to make as much money as possible. Minorities have been very successful in pro wrestling in the past, but it wasn’t because they were a minority…it was because they knew how to connect with the fans.

    • D Carter

      These were my thoughts. I don’t think it NEEDS to be put into a storyline, unless it’s a goooood storyline. And I really really don’t trust WWEs creative team with that topic yet. Could you imagine the first transgender Diva or vice versa?

      • If it’s done right it could be a great story. But yeah I have the fear of creative really making it into a laughing stock instead of a serious subject

    • Thanks for reading Dave. You bring up some valid points and I certainly don’t want to see someone given something out of their sexual orientation, but it’s a serious issue that dogs not only wrestling but other sports and forms of life too.

      Any accomplishment should always be down to talent but we’ve seen WWE in the past trying to connect with different audiences and I’m more surprised than anything this is one path they haven’t taken.

  • Jon Edney

    Great Article, Jamie.

  • Confused

    Just thought I’d mention there are many more homosexual wrestlers than the few you list. Pasion Kristal and Diva Salvaje. for example. Many of the exoticos are gay in and out of the ring, not all play it as a character, like Maximo for example.

    You probably didn’t want to get into that aspect of it, but the mentioning of Cassandro, an exotico legend, prompted the comment. As well as your comment of ‘in the industry’ as opposed to ‘on American TV’.

    • Thanks for commenting Confused. I knew there would be more than just the names I listed but there’s so many missed out because I’m not familiar with those outside of America.

      • Confused

        It’s interesting to look into. I suggest you perhaps do, and maybe add a supplementary piece to this in the future? There are several documentary makers who have covered the subject – though they do tend to stick to Cassandro, as the biggest profile exotico that is natural – but you can learn a lot about others too, and homosexuality in lucha libre in general.

        For example, the exoticos were simply there for entertainment [ho ho ho, look at the gays, aren’t they funny when they kiss the ref and he passes out] but since the changes in laws for homosexual rights, and marriage in Mexico City, the attitudes to the wrestlers have changed dramatically. To the point where there are probably more openly homosexual wrestlers in Mexico than the entirety of the rest of the world. A far cry from the time where gay people were used like small people as sideshow attractions.

        It was an interesting read, and I do look forward to any follow-up you might produce on the subject, especially as it is one we should continue to discuss.

        • Consider it a challenge accepted Confused. It will take some super research on my part but I’m willing to take up that challenge in the coming weeks.

  • AMDunn21

    I’ll admit I don’t often read these type of articles not because I don’t want to but lately I haven’t had the time. My best friend came out as gay little over a year ago & I was the first person he told so needless to say this article peaked my interest & I made damn sure I found the time to read it. I’m really glad I did, great article Jamie

    • thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the piece

  • If you don’t have anything positive or constructive to say might I suggest you just don’t bother commenting with that kind of hateful rhetoric.

  • joe

    Rico wasn’t gay?… Seriously though it think you all give the business too little credit, the only people referring to being gay as taboo is everyone here, I dont think wwe needs to bring someone’s sexuality up and forcing it will just irritate people it’s not 1999 anymore lads, I dunno what the states is like but it’s a pretty casual thing in most of Europe, PS. Why is everyone here so offended by name calling? Grow up and take it on the chin like a man, you aren’t 7 years old anymore, people swear, just deal with it

  • Andrew Fisher

    Good article and I’m happy to see acceptance of homosexuality from wrestling fans. Based on my experience, I tend to feel that the prejudice against homosexuality from sportsmen or sports fans is different to the prejudice from politically conservative or religious people. I feel

  • JOHN GRIMM

    Homophobic heterosexual men in professional wrestling are promoting
    heterosexual sodomy in this article because Homophobic heterosexual men
    in professional wresting have a bug up their ass on the subject on homosexual sodomy,
    since anal and oral copulation with a member of the opposite sex is also classified as
    sodomy under the law in the united states, homophobic heterosexual men in
    professional wrestling should learn how to have a higher level conversation
    and if they can’t learn how to have a higher level conversation, they should not be allowed to
    write a article for professional wrestling and they should be banned from
    professional wrestling because they have no moral standards, and since they have
    no moral standards they have disgraced the sport in the eyes of their peers
    and their fans.

  • JOHN GRIMM

    In my opinion, gay wrestlers in professional wrestling should organized a gay union
    because I don’t want gay wrestlers in professional wrestling be discriminate against because of their sexual orientation. I also believe that it is long overdue because there are a lot of homophobic heterosexual wrestlers in professional wrestling.