Anthony Bowens is currently one of the most popular people in wrestling and made history this year as the first out gay wrestler to become an All Elite Wrestling (AEW) champion. In a recent podcast interview, he opened up about his all-consuming fear of coming out and how he feels about it now.
“It makes me feel proud because, you know, there was a time, I said that in a promo, I didn’t think I’d be able to have a moment like that, ever,” Bowens reportedly told Alison Rosen on the podcast, Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend.
“I would sit in my room, in my car, and just cry thinking if I came out, you know, my career is over, fans would hate me, wrestlers would hate me, a national TV company wouldn’t take a chance on me. So, there was all this fear, you know, all this fear and anxiety that I look back on now.”
Bowens also said he hopes “to be able to be somebody that people can watch on television, hopefully connect to and relate to, to give them that sense of hope that, I made it through, they can make it through.”
“I’ve loved pro wrestling ever since I was 5 years old and I didn’t want my experience ruined because of other wrestlers thinking I got into it for the wrong (sexual) reasons,” Bowens wrote when he first came out. “The ring is my sanctuary, where nothing else matters. I couldn’t bear to think that if I came out, I’d spend most of my time worrying if the person I was wrestling was uncomfortable and didn’t want to work with me.”
Last year, Bowens made waves for kissing his boyfriend, Michael Pavano, in front of anti-LGBTQ protestors. He posted a picture to his Instagram of the pair locking lips in front of signs held by protestors that said, “Trump, Make America Great Again: Ban Homo Marriage” and “HOMOS GO TO HELL.”
“#Standup against hate,” he wrote in the caption.
Under the team name, The Acclaimed, Bowens and his wrestling partner, Max Caster, won AEW’s Tag Team Championship in September.
On Twitter, Bowens used the win as a moment to honor his late grandmother.
“When my Nana passed in 2015 I promised her I’d be a success,” he wrote. “Nana, I made it! AEW’s first Gay Champion. Most tag team wins in AEW. Most popular team in wrestling. EVERYONE LOVES THE ACCLAIMED.”
When my Nana passed in 2015 I promised her I’d be a success. Nana, I made it!
AEW’s first Gay Champion 🌈
Most tag team wins in AEW 🤼♂️
Most popular team in wrestling 😁
— Anthony Bowens (@Bowens_Official) September 22, 2022