When Anthony Bowens made history last year as All Elite Wrestling’s first out LGBTQ male champion, the “who cares?” crowd showed up, the same group of sports fans who ask that about athletes, especially gay male athletes.
Asking “who cares?” is itself a form of homophobia because it demands that LGBTQ athletes keep their mouths shut about their private lives, something not asked of straight athletes like Travis Kelce, now more famous as Taylor Swift’s new boyfriend.
When Bowens wrote a heartfelt essay in the Players Tribune last week about his journey and thanking his AEW fans, the same critics asked the same tired question: Who cares?
On Tuesday, Bowens took to X (formerly Twitter) with what was a perfect response to the question.
I’m not posting this because it bothers me but more to explain something because the @PlayersTribune got such a big reaction. I get both positive and negative comments that say “who cares, we support you” or “it doesn’t matter..he’s talking about it too much” in regards to my speaking about being an out athlete. My kind of activism isn’t in your face, but I do not shy away from talking about it when asked, and there’s really never a time where I’m not asked about it.
If you’re someone making that comment..THIS part of my life isn’t for YOU. It’s for those that can relate to me and the struggles that I have gone through in my life because of it. I didn’t have someone to look up to and now I have the opportunity to be that others. So yes, it DOES matter.
There are plenty of other things that YOU can relate to outside of that..whether that is just the love of pro wrestling in general, losing an important loved one and promising to make them proud, getting bullied in elementary school, a POC getting called the N word in high school, overcoming being a shy introverted kid, my body transformation in the gym, etc. The list goes on.
It doesn’t matter who you are, those are HUMAN experiences that a lot can related to no matter what your belief’s are. If you’re choosing to focus centrally on the LGBTQ+ stuff then you’re tipping hand to being someone that leads with hate.
Focus on the things on the things that bring us all together, rather than getting angry at the things that make us different. You’ll live a lot happier life. See you on #AEWDynamite
“THIS part of my life isn’t for YOU” is a spot-on comeback and can apply to anyone in the public eye sharing an intimate part of who they are. Bowens, who came out publicly on Outsports in 2017 writing about his relationship with boyfriend Michael Pavano, had no role models to look up when he was coming up and now has the platform where he can inspire others.
“As long as I was closeted as a wrestler, I wasn’t going to reach my full potential. Because I wasn’t going to be able to tap into everything that makes me me,” Bowens writes in the Players Tribune about his early struggles as a wrestler. By being his authentic self, Bowens has thrived and he used his essay to thank the fans who have energized and supported him.
“Thanks for giving us a chance / sticking with us through the pandemic / going crazy for Max’s bars / scissoring until your fingers bleed / singing “OHHHHHH SCISSOR ME DADDYYYY” / buying foam fingers / hating Billy’s sons so much that he decided he’d rather spend time with us.
“Thanks for letting a queer Black kid from New Jersey live out his wrestling dream.”
Who cares? The people who matter do.