Gay WWE Wrestler Explains Decision to Come Out

The Today Show

After becoming the first active WWE star to disclose that he's gay during a paparazzi encounter this week at the airport, professional wrestler Darren Young explained his unprecedented decision to the Today show's Matt Lauer.

"Why not? I felt like it was the right place and the right time," Young, whose real name is Fred Rosser, told Lauer about his response to a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport who had asked his opinion of whether or not gay wrestlers could be successful in his industry.

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"I feel by coming out I'm going to make a big difference in a lot of people's lives. I've been suppressing these feelings for so long in my life -- I'm going to be 30 on Nov. 2 -- and I just need to be happy. Until the day I'm six feet under, I will always say I want to be happy, and I'm happy now."

He admitted that his disclosure wasn't easy during the unplanned airport encounter. "I'll be honest with you, I was terrified, and I think anybody in my shoes would feel the same way. It took some guts."

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Young revealed that he spoke on Thursday with professional basketball player Jason Collins, who revealed his homosexuality in a Sports Illustrated cover story in May to become the first active male athlete in a major team sport to come out as gay. "He actually gave me some advice on how to handle this whole situation and how to cope with it and how to be positive and be a strong individual," said the wrestler.

Young has already gotten some messages of support from WWE officials, but is not sure how his sexuality announcement will be received by fellow wrestlers. "I will probably get a mixed reaction, maybe some good, some bad. But at the end of the day, I want to be able to be a role model," he said. "I want to be a role model to people that are afraid to come out. I want to be able to speak at different functions and educate and tell my story because my story goes further than being gay."