Tag Archives: homophobia

Be A Star, #WWEqual, #GotYourBack and wrestling’s viral equality facade

Pride week is upon us as summer begins and it’s that time of year when corporations come out in droves supporting the “LGBT” community, never mind the Q, I, 2S, A, and so on. Do they really? Sports has always been an iffy field when it comes to equality and I’m going to put wrestling, as an industry, pretty damn low on the list of those who actually make an effort.

That being said, WWE likes to make the appearance that they are all about equality, but there is transparent hypocrisy right down to the very core. Today, #WWEqual is a hashtag that’s popped up in conjunction with wrestlers tweeting about GLAAD’s #GotYourBack campaign. Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 4.57.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 4.58.02 PMThis has caught our attention and I’m coloured quite curious right now as to what’s stirring this, other than an opportune moment to get attention. Now, I truly believe the ‘superstars’ who are tweeting as part of this campaign do have the best of intentions; but it’s hard to take anything seriously from a company that has an openly homophobic main eventer, hires transphobic fighters to appear on PPVs and just plain has little respect for women.

This isn’t the first time we’re seeing GLAAD and WWE pairing up, they’ve partnered with Darren Young shortly after TMZ outed him, they’ve reached out to talk to them when John Cena made disparaging remarks in regards to trans people, and there is no shortage of damage control in regards to maintaining their image. It’s an odd image to try and maintain though, since despite these efforts we’re left feeling unsafe and unwelcome in the wrestling community.

Combat sports as a whole, however, are taking huge steps forward with regards to inclusion. We have Fallon Fox fighting with UFC and our first ever openly gay Tag Team Champion in the WWE with the Prime Time Players (Darren Young).

So, how can these efforts to better themselves coexist alongside storylines in which Paige calls Tamina a man and mentions that she’s in the wrong division? Sooner or later these campaigns against bullying need to be effective internally as well as just what they’re spouting out to their fans.

Personally, I really hope that our voices are finally getting through to the big wigs and efforts are being made, but I’ve been burned before. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this hashtag to see if there’s any legitimate partnership or if this is just another bandwagon hop.

Boys Will Be Bigots

“He hurt my feelings.” “Oh well, boys will be boys.” I truly wonder how many times Vince McMahon, and the majority of the talent within the WWE, have heard this excuse used towards their actions over the years. I’m of the mindset that once is too many, but here we are continuing to wrestle with homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, you name it.

So, here we have a company that totes it’s anti bullying campaign, Be A Star, and does everything in their power to go against what they claim to stand for. Hot off the heels of hugely problematic trainer and alleged sexual harasser, Bill DeMott, stepping down from his position within the company, you’d think they’d want to push away from this troubling pattern they’ve been stuck in for so long. Instead, they pay big money to resign Brock Lesnar as one of their mainstays. This is more than just my personal feeling about his wrestling prowess, or lack there of, but solely aimed at what message they are sending by promoting a vocal homophobe and unrepentant stalker. He has, on the record, stated “I don’t like gays. Write that down in your little notebook. I. Don’t. Like. Gays.” Not only is he still signed with the WWE, but he is their champion and the face that they continue to push. They also spent a lot of money to keep him around, and if that isn’t a glowing endorsement of his behaviour, I don’t know what is.

People are going to argue that one person doesn’t constitute a problem, or point out that them keeping queer talent on the roster shows that they are trying to change. I wish I could believe that was the case, but when Darren Young came out the transparency surrounding their statement and maintaining his career to save face was strong. You had a man who you were trying to push fairly hard, only to bury him in your midcard moments after he came out. Pat Patterson has had his sexuality ‘known’ by the public for quite some time, but he only came out officially on WWE Legends’ House. There has also been some allusion from wrestlers, such as Roddy Piper, towards treatment along the lines of sexual harassment from Patterson in the locker room when they were first starting out.

Let me run down a list of other horrific examples of this problem, past and present, that drive this point home.

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Billy and Chuck

Billy and Chuck became a tag team duo that’s sole purpose was to incite gay panic. How quaint. They would have extremely homoerotic workout routines and eventually were engaged to be wed live on television. Fast forward to their ceremony, they are about to be pronounced husband and husband and there is a freak out where it’s revealed that it was all a huge publicity stunt and they weren’t really gay.

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Mark Henry

Mark’s entire gimmick is based around him being a lady’s man. Upon attempting to woo Chyna, who was having none of it, Chyna’s friend Sammy was sent back to take care of Mark. Here’s where I point out to you that Sammy is a cis man dressed as a woman, his purpose is to trick Mark into having sex with him. In wonderful attitude era fashion, we see footage of Sammy going down on Mark Henry backstage. Mark starts to feel up Sammy and then proclaims “Sweet Jesus! You got a penis!” Sammy rips off his wig to reveal he’s actually a man and Mark Henry runs to the washroom to throw up.

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John Cena

It hasn’t been long since John Cena was still rap battling his opponents before a match, most of which were peppered with slurs and wholly oppressive in nature. It didn’t take long before GLAAD actually stepped in to address this issue and steer them away from this continuing to happen. This is yet another man who the WWE has at the helm of their company, and is supposed to be a role model to children, or at least that is how he’s marketed.

This list can go on and on, and that is really disheartening. There are lesbian panic storylines surrounding Rosa on E! Total Divas, the countless times that Lawler has called someone a fag on commentary, the time that the Godfather called Regal a fag in effort to entice a fight, The Rock saying John Cena’s wristbands make him look like a bloated transvestite Wonder Woman ready to fight crime, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Cheap pops aren’t worth it, and there’s no way you can look me dead in the eye and tell me “But he makes us money” when you’re spending ungodly amounts to keep them signed and have my believe you and condone your actions. Once again though, I’m none too convinced that your real slogan isn’t “WWE: You like what we tell you to like.”