TODAY

TODAY   |  August 16, 2013

Wrestler: After coming out, ‘I’m happy now’

Darren Young, who recently became the first openly gay professional wrestler, tells Matt Lauer that he thought coming out “could make a big difference in people’s lives.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> and darren young whose real name is fred rosser, good morning.

>> good morning, i'm a big fan of you and happy to be here.

>> it's good to have you here. i look at that video and the tmz camera comes up to you and i don't see a guy that looks like he is being confronted. a guy seems as if he has been waiting for that moment almost, expecting it and is very comfortable in it. talk to me about it.

>> why not? i felt like it was the right place and the right time and i feel by coming out i'm going to make a big difference in a lot of people's lives.

>> why the right time? why did you feel personally it was your right time?

>> you know, i have been suppressing these feelings for so long in my life. i'm going to be 30 on november 2nd and i just need to be happy and until the day i'm six feet under i will always say i want to be happy and i'm happy now.

>> as a professional wrestler , did you live in fear of being outed by someone else ? that someone else would take control of that very personal piece of your life.

>> i'll be honest with you, i was terrified, you know? i think anybody in my shoes would feel the same way. but, you know, it took some guts, you know?

>> so at another point in your life if someone had walked up to you with a camera and started talking about being homosexual i might have provoked panic as opposed to the calm demeanor we saw; sure. absolutely.

>> the response from fellow wrestlers i have seen, tweets and things and from the wrestling organization has been enormously supportive.

>> unbelievable.

>> surprised by it?

>> very surprised. from vince mccann who i talked to personally last night. testi stephanie mccann. i talked to jason collins last night too and he gave me advice on how to handle the whole situation and how to cope with it and be positive and be a strong individual.

>> when you saw the footage a second ago of jason collins you went like this. did he help inspire you.

>> yeah. he did. right on. when i'm happy about something.

>> when you get back in the ring, the first time you step in the ring, crowded arena, what response do you think you'll get from fans.

>> i'll probably get a mixed reaction. maybe some good. some bad. but, you know, at the end of the day i want to be able to be a role model. i want to be a role model to people that are afraid to come out. i want to be there. i want to be able to speak at different functions and educate and tell me story because my story goes further than being gay. as a young child, i had a speech impetment, a stuttering problem. i got bullied and picked on but that didn't stop me from becoming a wwe super star . got the help i needed and had a speech pathologist help me out. and i'm living the dream now.

>> well, it's your personal dream and it's the truth.

>> yes and i have the best of both worlds , you know? i'm in love. and i wrestle for one of the greatest organizations in the world, the wwe and i'm a lucky man. lucky.

>> it's nice to have you