Ever since its television inception, pro wrestling has been filled with effeminate characters. Very few of them were openly gay (either on-screen or off), but their behavior in the squared circle was always enough to rile up a crowd. Wrestling, after all, is supposed to be a very macho event filled with many rugged men doing battle. As a result most "gay" wrestlers have always been heels. As I've discussed previously in this blog, it's hard enough to watch wrestling and not get labeled gay without a literal example of gay wrestling prancing around on your TV screen. However, I believe the tide may be about to turn for one of wrestling's classic villains.
Muhammad Hassan (and to a similar extent Bret Hart) added another dimension to the previously cliche foreign heel. Gay wrestling characters may be due for a similar evolution (insert your own joke about the WWE stable here). These days, the world has changed. We aren't living in the same Gorgeous George post-war era. Gays and bisexuals, perhaps more than ever before, are tolerated in society (not to mention fully accepted in some parts of the world). Plenty of people will still boo a wrestler simply for being light in the loafers, but many people will also cheer that wrestler on for being one of their own. Or at least for having the strength to "come out" in such a heterosexual business. Slash, yaoi, Queer As Folk, Ellen, that stripper guy on American Idol, Mickie James during the Trish Stratus angle, etc. All have had very loyal followings. Virgil Runnels has even been a babyface Goldust a few times in his career. Usually after portraying something else that made people long for the return of his most famous persona.
Depending on how he or she was booked, I'd say the odds of a gay wrestling character in 2008 getting at least a mixed reaction-or "Cena heat" as I call it-are pretty darn good. Unless of course the gay character were portrayed by John Cena himself. He always manages to overcome the odds.
Despite a successful track record of girly-man heels, I think the wrestling business is soon going to be forced to adapt when it comes to homosexuality.
Hmm. Maybe that naked dancing guy from DX could come back.