American sport and homosexuality have never been the best of bedfellows. And there’s a sad and salutary lesson to be learned from the attempt by a professional wrestler called Chris Kanyon to combine the two.
After retiring from the ring to become a Hollywood stuntman, Kanyon – real name Chris Klucsarits – decided it was time to tell the world he was gay.
The macho world of wrestling, despite its fondness for muscly men in tight underpants grappling with each other, was predictably scandalised. So alien is the idea of a gay wrestler that fans had not suspected a thing when, in 2003, Chris took on the Undertaker in a bout that began with him (Kanyon) emerging from a closet – geddit?! – dressed as Boy George.
It was only this year that Chris had the not-so-bright idea of reviving his career with a publicity stunt – staging a press conference to tell the world he was gay. Well, he actually told the world that ‘Chris Kanyon’ (his
persona) was gay, which didn’t make any sense but still made a few headlines.
A month later he revealed the shocking truth – Chris Klucsarits was gay too!
Sadly for Chris, and other gay wrestlers who might be, erm, wrestling with their consciences, the public were not exactly thrilled.
Many accused him of exploiting his sexuality for a PR stunt, which it obviously was. But it backfired spectacularly. Instead of fighting for the right to sign him up, promoters shunned him in their droves. And they did so, say insiders, because he was gay. Coming out had worked against him.
Well, as the under-20s say: Duh!
No one expects men who make their living thumping each other’s heads on the floor to be the brightest sparks but Chris must have knocked out a few too many brain cells.
He made some fundamental mistakes in forgetting that not only is wrestling a macho world where homosexuality is taboo, but so is American sport in general. Indeed, so is America in general.
And while we in our all-embracing metropolis can list a whole bunch of gay icons who everybody loves – from Panto dames Elton John and David Furnish to Graham Norton and Lily Savage – they don’t see things that way in Alabama or Arkansas.
Which is why there aren’t any famous gay sports stars in America. It’s why George Michael’s career in America ended the day he went down to his local park and made friends with an undercover cop. It’s why famous gay politicians are all famous gay ex-politicians. And it’s why famous gay movie stars stay in the closet.