WWE Superstar Darren Young (real name Fred Rosser) made history Thursday (Aug. 15) when he became the first openly gay professional wrestler. He sat down with “Today” Friday to talk about his decision to come out and how he hopes to be a role model.
“I felt like it was the right place and the right time. I feel by coming out I’m going to make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives,” says Young. “I’ve been suppressing these feelings for so long in my life. I’m going to be 30 on Nov. 2 and I just need to be happy. ‘Til the day I’m six feet under, I will always say I want to be happy and I’m happy now.”
Young goes on to say that he was “terrified” to come out, but the response from the WWE and his fellow athletes has been “unbelievable.”
“I even talked to Jason Collins last night,” says Young, referring to the first athlete active in one of the four major U.S. professional sports to come out of the closet. “He actually gave me some advice on how to handle this whole situation and how to cope with it.”
Young now joins the ranks of Collins and soccer players Robbie Rogers and Megan Rapinoe as openly gay athletes playing professional sports in the U.S. There has been talk about several gay NFL players coming out together this fall, though there’s no official word as to whether that is happening.
As for the WWE fan reaction, Young says he’s not sure what that will be.
“I’ll probably get a mixed reaction, maybe some good, some bad,” says Young. “[But] at the end of the day, I want to be able to be a role model. I want to be a role model to people that are afraid to come out. I want to be there. I want to be able to speak at different functions and educate and tell my story because my story goes further than being gay.
“As a young child, I had a speech impediement, a stutering problem. I got bullied, I got picked on, but that didn’t stop me from becoming a WWE Superstar. … I’m living a dream now. … I’m in love. And I wrestle for one of the greatest organizations in the world. I’m a lucky man.”
We like how he sneaks that “in love” part in at the end. TMZ reports that Young has been dating a man named Nick for two years.