On August 9, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon spoke at the Beyond Sport United event and took a stand with the LGBT community. Beyond Sport is a global organization that promotes and celebrates the use of sport to address social issues in communities worldwide. The event was backed by major sports leagues like the NFL, MLB, NHL, and WWE, among others, and was held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to Stephanie McMahon, numerous speakers took the stage including Mauricio Sulaiman (World Boxing Council President) and Ithaca Mayor Svante L. Myrick.
WWE has proudly supported staff and wrestlers who have come out as openly gay in the recent past. WWE superstar Darren Young announced he was a homosexual in 2013, and became the first openly gay wrestler for the company. Current and former WWE superstars and executives like Triple H, Vince McMahon, Titus O’Neil, Jim Ross, Stephanie McMahon, and Bret “Hitman” Hart, among many others, quickly took to Twitter to show their support.
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
— Titus O’Neil (@TitusONeilWWE) August 15, 2013
WWE official Pat Patterson, who was the first WWE intercontinental champion, announced he was gay in 2014 and this week released his book, Accepted. As KTAL reported, Stephanie McMahon spoke of that incident at the Beyond Sport event, their position on LGBT wrestlers, and of WWE’s partnership with GLAAD.
“Throughout my life I have grown up knowing gay [WWE] superstars and executives…It’s always been accepted, but now it’s about getting that message out there.
“It’s about his [Patterson] life as a gay wrestler and how from the beginning of his career he had to hide that…He first came out … on a show on WWE Network called ‘Legends’ House.’ It was a reality show with a bunch of our legends, and he had such a positive response. It was so warm and supportive that he then decided to tell his story.”
Stephanie McMahon went on to say how the WWE will “integrate LGBT characters” into their programming and plan to do so in the near future. McMahon also commented on how they have had GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) come to speak with the WWE writing team.
“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.”
This is not the first time the WWE has stood up for equal rights for the LGBT community. In May, they had a series of live events in North Carolina and the WWE encouraged their fans to get on social media to take a stand against House Bill 2 (HB2) with the hashtag #RepealHB2. HB2 forbids councils from applying local anti-discrimination laws specifying that people must use the bathroom that matches the gender stated on their birth certificate. Glade.org reported what GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis had to say regarding the stance of the WWE and the LGBT community.
“WWE is a strong partner for the LGBT community, and we are so pleased to see the company standing up for LGBT North Carolinians and against this discriminatory law… It’s time for Governor McCrory and the state’s leaders to heed the calls of citizens, as well as the business and entertainment industries, and abandon this misguided decision to write hate into law.”
The WWE and GLAAD have created a strong partnership and with Stephanie McMahon’s statement at the Beyond Sport United event, the WWE universe can look forward to new and fresh storylines with the integration of LGBT characters on WWE programming.
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