The WWE doesn't want its wrestlers to have to compete in the shadows.
After 75-year-old gay wrestling legend Pat Patterson wrote in his new memoir, Accepted, about having to hide his sexuality during his career, the organization announced a commitment to adopt LGBT characters into its scripted matches.
"We will integrate LGBT characters into our programming," WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon said to NBC OUT at a Beyond Sport United event on Tuesday. "And I do think there will be an opportunity to integrate some of those storylines in the near future."
"Throughout my life I have grown up knowing gay [WWE] superstars and executives," she added. "It's always been accepted, but now it's about getting that message out there."
McMahon spoke fondly of Patterson's memoir, noting that "he first came out … on a show on WWE Network called Legends' House."
Patterson, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996, made that announcement on the season finale in 2014, also revealing that he had a partner for four decades, who had died of a heart attack.
McMahon added that the support of his fellow wrestlers contributed to Patterson's decision to write the memoir.
"It was a reality show with a bunch of our legends, and he had such a positive response," she continued. "It was so warm and supportive that he then decided to tell his story."
McMahon also revealed that the WWE has partnered with the LGBTQ advocacy organization, GLAAD, saying, "With their guidance and support, we will be able to portray [LGBT characters] appropriately."