WWE Wrestling superstar Darren Young seemed non-chalant when he came out publicly as a gay man during a chance airport encounter with TMZ cameras during the summer of 2013.
The 35-year-old revealed his sexuality to a TMZ photographer after he was asked if a gay wrestler could be successful.
Laughing, he had said: ‘Absolutely, absolutely! Look at me. I’m a WWE Superstar, and to be honest with you I’m gay. And I’m happy, very happy.’
Now that he’s been out for more than three years and continued to compete, Young admits that he immediately began to have second thoughts as he left the airport that August night.
‘I did not think about it before doing it and afterwards I was a nervous wreck,’ Young recently told Gay Star News.
‘I did the interview and I was confident and I walked away then I was like, “What the hell did I just do?” “Am I going to lose family? Friends? My job?”
‘It was the fear of the unknown. But I was assured by WWE that everything would be okay and the support of my family was tremendous.’
Speaks out against bullying and homophobia
Since coming out, Young has participated in the NOH8 campaign against homophobia and last year he spoke out against the WWE for its three-day tour of the United Arab Emirates, where gay sex is illegal.
Young, whose real name is Fred Rosser, takes his position as a role model seriously.
‘My job as a WWE superstar is to beat people up in the rung but I also have a job to send positive vibes and I do that by going to different schools and talking about bullying,’ he says.
‘It is a serious epidemic. It’s my job to be that gay superhero and put an end to all that.’
While he worried initially about his career and his fans, the first WWE wrestler to come out publicly as gay has mostly felt support.
‘It’s been great,’ he says. ‘I feel like I have more fans, absolutely. And I have a lot more straight fans now that really respect me. I think we’re making progress in the LGBT community. But we still got a lot of work to do obviously.’
No time for haters
He shrugs off anyone who wants to try and drag him down.
‘Social media you might get some haters but my whole motto is if they don’t know you personally, don’t take it personal,’ he says.
‘All my fans, all my friends have been so supportive of me and I couldn’t ask for anything better. My job now is to return the favor to those that are unsure about themselves and to just know that they’ve got me as a friend on social media.’