Hailing from New Jersey, Anthony Bowens is a professional wrestler who came to prominence in 2013. Working his way up the wrestling ranks, Bowens made his debut in WrestlePro in 2016.
If you’re thinking that his name sounds familiar, despite not knowing a thing about wrestling, then let us give you a quick refresh. In 2017, Bowens came out as bisexual and also shared that he was in a relationship with Michael Pavano. Fast forward to January 2019 and Bowen revealed that he now identifies as being a gay man, as opposed to being bisexual.
“I started to go over all the media work I’ve done over the past couple of years, and each article would describe me as ‘the bisexual pro wrestler’ and at the time, when I first came out two years ago, I felt that label was what closest represented me,” Bowens says in an interview with Gay Times for the February 2019 issue of which he is one of the cover stars, alongside Sasha Velour and Amanda Lepore.
“Reading it in the current day, it just didn’t seem to fit anymore. As the months went on, I started to feel a lot stronger about that label,” he added.
“It was a bit scary at first because I had spent the previous two years in some pretty major publications defending the label bisexuality, so I didn’t know how people were going to react.
“I didn’t want them to think I was turning my back on anything, but I did want people to understand that as you get older your views of the world and your views of yourself change, I’m sure anybody who’s looked back on their younger self, they can all recognise a difference in the way they think, and I definitely notice a difference. The closest thing that I want to be referred to as now is gay.”
Alongside wrestling, Bowens also has his own YouTube channel – one he shares with his boyfriend. The ‘Michael & Anthony’ channel sees the pair vlogging about events in their life, while also doing the occasional challenge or two.
“They like the fact that I can openly be myself”
Working in such a heteronormative industry, such as wrestling, it’s a little worrying about how an openly gay wrestler might be treated with their peers – however, Bowens faced a different kind of response. “If anything, it’s made my relationships with a lot of my co-workers and the other wrestlers a lot stronger, because I’m not hiding anymore. They like the fact that I can openly be myself,” he said.
“I think the culture in wrestling has changed a lot as far as how it’s looked at in locker rooms. I’m not gonna sit here and say that homophobia is completely gone, because I’m sure it still exists, but it’s kind of contained now because people know if they are to say something they shouldn’t there will be a lot of negative backlash.
“We have a lot of support in this industry,” Bowens added.