TODAY

TODAY   |  August 16, 2013

WWE wrestler comes out as gay

Darren Young created buzz after telling TMZ he was gay at a Los Angeles airport, becoming the first openly gay professional wrestler. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> has been a dramatic shift in attitudes toward the gay community in america. in a moment, we'll talk to ayman who provided the newest milestone, wwe star darren young . but first, here's stephanie gosk.

>> reporter: most of darren young 's moves in the ring are choreographed. but at los angeles airport the gossip site tmz caught the wrestler in an unscripted moment.

>> i'm a wwe super star and to be honest with you i'll tell you now, i'm gay and very happy.

>> darren's open and casual coming out took many by surprise. prowrestlers aren't known for taking on sensitive issues. and until just recently, very few professional male athletes have admitted publicly that they are gay.

>> it's very important to me that, you know, people understand that someone's sexual preference shouldn't really matter.

>> reporter: last may, long time nba player jason collins did the same thing. much more high profile on the cover of sports illustrated . in june, he marched in boston's gay pride parade . boxer orlando cruise came out last year. the first openly gay boxer. this week cruz proposed to his partner on facebook. what may have triggered a storm of controversy in the past is being openly discussed and wide ri embraced an indication of how attitudes in the country changed. the wwe released a statement saying the organization was proud of the wrestler. this year gay issues have dominated the national conversation . supreme court struck down the defense of marriage act . in the build up to the olympics backlash to russia's new antigay laws has been swift and loud. young's casual admission joins the course hoping to show this is one part of life he doesn't need to wrestle. for today, stephanie gosk, nbc news new york.