It’s not that Superstar Darren Young (aka Fred Rosser), one half of the Prime Time Players with partner Titus O’Neal, has revealed in an interview with TMZ that he is gay. We know the Religious Right will hate that as much as they hated Jason Collins being gay.
No, it is the WWE’s response to this news that is the problem. Since 2011 the WWE has promoted its Be a Star (Show Tolerance And Respect) program:
The mission of Be a STAR is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness. Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.
And now, with Young’s announcement, the company found itself in a position where it had to put its money where its mouth was.
And it did, without hesitation:
In a TMZ interview, WWE Superstar Darren Young (Fred Rosser) revealed to the WWE Universe that he is gay. WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar. On Thursday afternoon, in fact, Darren participated in one of our Be A STAR anti-bullying rallies in Los Angeles to teach children how to create positive environments for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation.
This press release was immediately backed up by tweets from Vince McMahon, as well as from Chief Operating Officer Triple H (aka Paul Michael Levesque) and his wife, Executive Vice President Stephanie McMahon.
— Triple H (@TripleH) August 15, 2013
Congratulations to @DarrenYoungWWE for being the first openly gay WWE Superstar!
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) August 15, 2013
I respect @DarrenYoungWWE's decision to come out and am happy to see the support from the WWE Universe.
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) August 16, 2013
Young followed up his TMZ announcement with an appearance on The Today Show, where he talked about the reasons for his decision and expressed his surprise at the outpouring of support from the WWE and his fellow wrestlers:
It is one thing for Young’s fellow wrestlers to support him – and they do – but another entirely for the company, and if Tea Party bigots hated Linda McMahon before, they will hate her even more now.
One of the unforgiveable sins in the eyes of modern conservatism, along with being black, is being gay, and Darren is both. Witness American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios saying the other day that “God will even the score with Obama and gays.”
God will have to set his sights on the WWE now as well. We will have to assume that Darren will likely be incinerated in the ring by the finger of God, or perhaps turned to a pillar of salt, or perhaps struck down like an errant bird. The McMahons are an easy target; they are often in the ring together.
I mean, it’s not like God doesn’t have his chance on a regular basis.
It has to be just eating aberrochristians up that, whatever Sandy Rios says, God is not, in fact, exacting vengeance upon America for becoming more open-minded about LGBT folk. Doom and gloom has colored their prophecies for years now over their cherry-picked culture war issues, but God seems uncaring of it all.
America is healthier economically than at any time since Bush left office. Not that you’d know that from Fox News, but it is true nonetheless. And that is despite the growing acceptance of marriage equality, now topping out at over 50 percent nationally.
The former head of the Family Research Council (FRC), Gary Bauer, ignored these numbers and the unwelcome fact they represent, claiming that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision was an act of “judicial terrorism” and in defiance of the “consent of the governed” (clearly, it was not). According to Bauer, the Supreme Court had “rejected thousands of years of Judeo-Christian understanding” (also untrue, as there is no such thing as ‘Judeo-Christian’ in the first place, and the Bible doesn’t say what Bauer says it does in the second).
Bauer can pretend that “America is on the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis” but what is actually happening is the liberalizing of America where the Religious Right’s Culture War issues are concerned. And all the anger in the world won’t change this fact. Nor will pretending God is going to do something about it.
God hasn’t, and he won’t.
In fact, it would seem that between the two, the WWE is more serious about its professed stance on bullying and equality than the Religious Right and it’s god, as the former has, at least, put its money where its mouth is, quite literally in this case.
The fans – the WWE universe, as they are known – are in the position of being able to decide the future existence of the WWE based on its stance toward equality through its Be a STAR program. They will vote with their pocketbooks and with their television sets, and, increasingly, their mobile devices.
Since this year the WWE brought in $276.3 million from its top five sources of revenue compared to last year’s $264.7 million, my guess is that Be a STAR hasn’t killed them and that therefore, neither will Darren Young.
What has hurt WWE with its fans is not its embrace of tolerance, but – and this also does not bode well for the Religious Right – its embrace of a PG-TV rating over it’s old, if unofficial, TV-14 approach and all its accompanying sex and violence. The Religious Right found itself out of tune with the fans and will likely, with respect to Darren Young, do so again.
But just as that sex and violence cannot and will not return to the WWE, neither will time roll backwards and see the WWE abrogate its acceptance of all people – including people like Darren Young.
Ultimately, the Religious Right will rant and rave, but its god will do nothing and it, as a religious ideology, will fall further behind while the WWE – and most Americans – walk in lockstep into a future where tolerance is mainstream.