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WWE still sees LGBTQ people as a shock-inducing punchline

Monday’s Liv Morgan-Lana angle was more proof that LGBTQ wrestling fans shouldn’t expect positive representation from WWE anytime soon.

Liv Morgan Lana Raw
Lana slaps Liv Morgan after being confronted about their relationship during her storyline wedding on Raw
WWE

“I never knew that I could be myself until we met and fell in love with one another.”

Those words from a tearful returning Liv Morgan during Lana and Bobby Lashley’s show-closing wedding on 2019’s final episode of Raw stood as the latest example of WWE’s ignorance as it pertains to the LGBTQ community.

What promised to be the long overdue culmination of a months-long storyline first rooted in cuckolding Lana’s storyline ex-husband, and real-life husband, Rusev, took its latest turn when Morgan interrupted the ceremony to confront her supposed lover, Lana.

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After weeks of vignettes promising Morgan’s return to TV with a “makeover,” the former blue-tongued baddie walked down to the ring using language familiar to many LGBTQ people that experienced an emotional awakening when discovering their truth. Both women cried as the crowd expectedly cheered at the thought of two women being romantically linked.

And then Lana attacked Morgan, confirming that WWE wasn’t closing out the decade with a groundbreaking moment. The planet’s most profitable pro wrestling company continues to only see the LGBTQ community as a mediocre plot device that is only answerable with a case of the “not-gays” or open palm.

The angle drew the ire of wrestling fans, LGBTQ and otherwise, online, decrying the scene as lesbian domestic violence that used the LGBTQ community for shock value in an effort to produce a Jerry Springer-esque moment. Because Jerry Springer is topical as we enter 2020.

But more troubling was the fact that some people referred to the segment as LGBTQ representation. Let’s be clear: this in no way should approach representation in anyone’s mind. From Lana being referred to as a lesbian despite having three storyline husbands, including the man she “married” in the ring (bi/pan visibility!), to having Lana attack the woman professing her love to her, the segment included nothing positive for the LGBTQ fans that tuned in.

It’s even worse considering that WWE has an out lesbian wrestler on its roster in Sonya Deville that, along with her tag team partner Mandy Rose, pitched an LGBTQ storyline to WWE’s creative team earlier this year. That storyline didn’t happen, and, after the Liv-Lana debacle, the rejection of Deville’s pitch looks more like a blessing.

That didn’t keep Deville and Rose from expressing their disbelief at Monday’s show closer.

To be clear, the criticism doesn’t fall on Morgan, Lana or anyone else in the ring. That is squarely focused on the writers and decision makers that allowed this to make air.

Despite all the advancements and positive LGBTQ representation in independent promotions and nationally-televised companies, WWE continues to drag behind. The company is more than happy to celebrate Deville’s inclusion on its reality show Total Divas and her entrance chiron while touting its relationship with GLAAD at the same time it produces segments where a storyline queer woman is beaten for expressing her feelings and the company takes money from anti-LGBTQ nations.

The community has given WWE chance after chance. At this point, we honestly shouldn’t expect them to catch up anytime soon.