WWE Sees Opportunities for LGBT Storylines
But if WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon has anything to say about it, gay wrestlers like Patterson won’t have to hide their true selves as part of the WWEanymore.
Speaking at a Beyond Sport United event, McMahon told NBC OUT that her company is committed to LGBT inclusion moving forward.
“When it makes sense, absolutely we will integrate LGBT characters into our programming,” she said backstage. While the WWE doesn’t have imminent plans, McMahon believes there will be an opportunity for an LGBT storyline in the “near future.”
McMahon said the LGBT community has always been accepted at the WWE. “Throughout my life I have grown up knowing gay [WWE] superstars and executives,” she said. “It’s always been accepted, but now it’s about getting that message out there.”
She also said sensitivity toward the LGBT community is being prioritized in the WWE writer’s room through a partnership with LGBT media advocacy organization GLAAD.
“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 matter,” she explained. “In terms of any issues that require a degree of sensitivity in terms of how they’re being handled, we are always going to incorporate our partners, like GLAAD, to help us tell those stories the right way, because we do want to be sensitive to our audience, we want to be sensitive to the community and we want to make sure that we’re telling the right messages in the right way.”
Patterson – who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996 – came out in 2014 in the finale of the WWE reality show Legends’ House.
Sitting at a table with his fellow former wrestlers, Patterson admitted that he “survived all this being gay.”
“I’ve lived with that for 50-some years,” Patterson said, before adding his life outside of the ring included a partner of 40 years, who passed away after a heart attack.
“I’m so proud of me,” he said while wiping away tears. “It’s tough guys, it was tough.”
Talking to the camera, Patterson added he has no regrets about giving his life to the wrestling business. “For the rest of my life I want to be happy,” he said.
While it’s not surprising to hear this given the landscape of the world we live in, this absolutely terrifies me. LGBT storylines are not something new in pro wrestling. It’s just that pro wrestling has always relied on raunchy jokes and homophobia when covering the subject matter. What would be new and potentially entertaining would be a well written, well thought out, enlightened storyline. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has wondered why WWE has never touched upon Darren Young being a proud, Gay Man on their programming. With the widespread and enormous audience WWE has, something like that could be an inspiration for so many. Just do us all a favor though, stay away from cheap laughs and sophmoric humor, it’s not needed. Blaze a trail WWE.