WWE Superstar Darren Young was recently announced as a "Boss of Honor" at GaymerX2, the LGBT gaming convention preparing for its second annual event. Young spoke out about being gay last summer when a cameramen from TMZ asked him if he thought a gay wrestler could be successful. His response? "Absolutely. Look at me. I’m a WWE Superstar and to be honest with you, I’ll tell you right now I’m gay and I’m happy. Very happy." Young went on to serve as a Spirit Day ambassador to send a message of support for LGBT youth and encourage others to do the same and he also became the first out playable character in a sports game with the release of WWE 2K14 from game publisher 2K.
In 2013, GaymerX more than tripled their Kickstarter fundraising goal, allowing them to add concerts and celebrities to the convention. This year, they've already raised the $10,000 needed to put down a deposit on their convention space. Reaching their stretch goals would allow them to include free gender pronoun stickers to badges, a 24-hour Twitch hangout, a bonus celebrity guest, and more. GaymerX2 will be held in San Francisco on July 11-13, and you can learn more at their Kickstarter page.
Read on to see what Young had to say about being a Boss of Honor at GaymerX2, being the first out athlete to appear in a sports game, and his advocacy work since coming out last summer.
GLAAD: It was recently announced that you'll be the official "Boss of Honor" at the 2nd Annual GaymerX convention set to take place in San Francisco this summer. Besides the 2013 convention having been such a surprise success, what made you want to take part?
Darren Young: I am so honored to be a part of the 2nd GaymerX convention. It is a new way to connect with the community and have some fun! I'm also excited to be able to spend some time in one of my favorite cities San Fran. The vibe is laid back like myself.
GLAAD: The success of GaymerX proved that there is a much larger population of LGBT people who game than many people might have expected. Did you grow up playing video games, and do you have a favorite title or character?
DY: I was the only child growing up, so even though you could find me outside horse-playing around with the other kids, I would occasionally play video games with close cousins. I was addicted to the "Mario Brothers" video game for Nintendo! But now, it's always fun around the holidays when I visit family and I have little cousins or my friend's kids challenge me to play one of the WWE video games. This, for me, goes on for hours and it becomes competitive. They beat me every time!
GLAAD: Speaking of games, with the release of WWE 2K14, you also became the first openly gay athlete to appear in a sports title. Were you involved in making the game, and have you taken your avatar for a test drive since it came out?
DY: Yes, I was involved. As a WWE Superstar, we're all involved in the game development process and it's really cool! They scanned my body from head-to-toe to make sure what you see in the game looks exactly like me. We work with stunt coordinators and utilize motion capture technology so our moves are digitally recorded and put into the game. They even record and mimic our entrances so everything is authentic to our characters when people play the game. I've had the chance to play 2K14 and I thought everything was like being in WWE. I couldn't believe how accurately I was animated. 2K Sports did a great job!
GLAAD: Along with people like Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers, and Michael Sam, you've been part of a wave of professional athletes in major sports franchises coming out of the closet. What has your own experience in the spotlight been like since coming out last year?
DY: The overwhelming support from WWE, my fellow WWE Superstars, and my fans has been fantastic. I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and use WWE’s massive social media reach to tell my story and connect with my fans since I came out almost a year ago. I am finally able to be myself and be completely happy for the first time.
GLAAD: An interview you gave on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after coming out was recently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award, and fans got to see you in a NoH8 hoodie during a recent pay-per-view Smackdown event. Do you think of yourself as an LGBT advocate?
DY: Yes, of course. I want to make a difference in our community and stand up for those who might be too scared to stand up for themselves. I am grateful that WWE has given me the platform to do so. I enjoy going to schools to speak to kids through WWE’s anti-bullying campaign ‘Be a STAR,’ about the importance of holding your head high and being yourself.
GLAAD: Any message for your fans; LGBT, gamer, or otherwise?
DY: Live your life the way you want to. Truthfully. Don’t be bullied into silence.