Pro wrestler Anthony Bowens has had two comings out of a sort — first as an openly bisexual athlete and now further identifying himself as gay. His journey shows how our own sexual identities can shift.
Bowens came out publicly as bisexual in Outsports in 2017 in discussing his relationship with his boyfriend, Michael Pavano. On New Year’s Day, he announced on social media that he now identifies as gay.
In a cover story in British-based Gay Times magazine, coming out Friday, Bowens expounds further on his identity.
“Around six or seven months ago, I was developing a new wrestling character, so 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. 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.
“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 recognize 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.
“Even if people react negatively, I still know that I’m representing people and helping them be themselves, so I just look at the greater picture.”
Bowens said that after he initially came out, straight people were very supportive but that some in the LGBTQ community lashed out as him.
“Most of the negative stuff I saw was from people in the LGBTQ community arguing with each other over labels, over gay vs. bisexual, which really confused me.
“Before I came out I wasn’t very caught up on LGBTQ issues, so it took me by surprise and I was kind of disappointed because I thought, ‘This isn’t why I came out, for people to argue over labels. I came out to help people.’
“We get judged by so many people in this world, so to take that judgement and turn it around on somebody within the community who’s already struggling with other issues, when they’re looking for support, I think that’s horrible.”
I am not surprised, having heard many negative comments over the years from gay people toward bi people, though that is lessening these days.
Bowens and Pavano have an active and very fun YouTube channel where they do a lot of goofy stuff couples do, interspersed with discussions of serious issues. I applaud Bowens for being honest about his sexual identity and for continuing to be an advocate for LGBT people in sports.