This is the second article in the Gay Characters series, for the first, check out my last article, here: http://tinyurl.com/3bnujvz
This article is a continuation of the first, so I’d recommend reading the first…first.
In the previous article, I focused on just the character aspect. There have been numerous gay-oriented characters, some more memorable and important than others. The majority of these characters have been portrayed by completely straight individuals. Some of them were saddled with the flamboyant gimmicks by promoters. Others, took advantage of their own opportunities. However, they’re are some wrestlers out there who are legitimately gay and/or bisexual.
The most well-known would certainly have to be Orlando Jordan.
Most fans, including myself, best remember Orlando Jordan during his time with WWE, as a member of John Bradshaw Layfield’s Cabinet stable. Which, if you know about JBL’s backstage bully reputation, you’ll find quite ironic.
Orlando would be appointed the “Chief of Staff” of the stable, after coming to the aid of JBL, against The Undertaker. With his, along with the Basham Brothers’ assistance, JBL would reign over Smackdown for nearly a year. Then John Cena came along to feud with JBL heading into WrestleMania 21. Cena was the United States Champion at the time, but Orlando would defeat him for the title, getting his first and only, taste of championship gold.
A year later, he was set to be repackaged as an openly-bisexual performer, a gimmick that would play off his real life sexual orientation. However, he was released from his WWE contract, after a somewhat controversial incident; he had brought along a non-authorized individual to travel with him.
After bobbling around the Independent circuit for four years, Orlando Jordan landed himself in TNA. Here is was able to more fully express his sexuality. It was made no secret that he was bisexual, and even his real life partners were brought in to really drive the character home.
However, the character wouldn’t last long, for two reasons really. One, it only freaked fans out, and two, Spike TV, TNA’s television network home, is completely geared toward the straight male demographic.
So far, I’ve focused solely on the men, however, two women come to mind when thinking about this subject; Mickie James and Chyna.
When Mickie James debuted on WWE television, she seemed fairly normal; just a big fan of Trish Stratus. She certainly didn’t come across as a psychotic, obsessed woman. That changed, though, when she became progressively more interested in Stratus. Mickie made a shrine for Trish, followed her around,dressed like her, named her finisher the “Mick Kick”, a spoof of Trish’s “Chick Kick.” Then of course, there’s the time she kissed Trish, and less us not forget her confessing her love for Trish at the 2006 Royal Rumble. Trish did not share this love, however, and the two would face off at WrestleMania 22 for the Women’s Championship, a match which James would win. Past their rematch at Backlash, who freaking knows what happened to Mickie’s lesbian ways since then.
As for Chyna, there have numerous rumors, and jokes, created at her expense, most concerning her….umm..”more masculine” side. Anyway, here’s one of the most hilarious moments in WWF/E history…
I wonder if you’ve noticed a striking similarity between every single wrestler I’ve mentioned, in both articles? From the revolutionaries Gorgeous George and “Exotic” Adrian Street, to Goldust, to the not so indelible, all of these gay-oriented characters have been heels.
This similarity has drawn quite a bit amount of criticism. Supporters of this criticism say that these overly-flamboyant, heel characters lead to misperceptions, and worse, provide no good role-models for gay/bisexual/etc people, who may be engaged in the product. However, other’s point out that the majority of characters in the business are over-the-top, and that a wrestler not portraying a gay character flamboyantly, would be boring.
Another dynamic of gay-oriented characters in wrestling; Characters vs. Reality.
Unless they’ve hid their sexual orientation, the only person I’ve mentioned thus far who is not straight, is Orlando Jordan. From Gorgeous George to Billy and Chuck, none of the people portraying the characters have been gay themselves, yet they masterfully pulled off the characters, most making their own, great marks on professional wrestling. On the reality side of things, however, things haven’t been so bright. Due to what wrestling is, most wrestlers hide their orientation for either the length of their careers, or even their entire lives. Then there’s one recent unfortunate story, that of Chris Kanyon.
In 2004, after parting ways with the WWE, Kanyon announced that he was gay. He had wanted to use his orientation to his advantage, by portraying the role in either WWE or TNA. This would have made him the first openly gay pro wrestler, at least on the mainstream scene. Neither company was interested in the idea at the time, though.
However, TNA would end up using the idea years later, with Orlando Jordan. This may have been the final nail in the coffin for Kanyon, who had suffered from depression and bipolar disorder for numerous years. According to some of his friends, he had though about suicide for years as well. He would finally end his life in March of 2010, via prescription drug overdose.
Now, I leave you with this, and after reading both articles and watching this last video, ask your overall thoughts on gay-oriented characters in wrestling. From your thoughts on their importance, to reality vs. characters, to role-models, let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for Reading,