All Elite Wrestling’s Anthony Bowens took the high road in response to an audience member directing a homophobic slur at him during an AEW broadcast last week.
The incident in question occurred on last Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite on TNT. As Bowens was in the midst of an eight-person tag team match, an audience member yelled the slur in Bowens direction loud enough that it was heard loud and clear on the broadcast.
To the QWI 200 honoree’s credit, he didn’t miss a beat in the ring, but afterward Bowens took to Twitter to call out the moment.
“Stuff like this unfortunately still exists,” he wrote. “Not phased, I’ll just keep fighting against stuff like this til the day I die.”
He also referenced a recent Instagram post showing him and his boyfriend, Michael Pavano, kissing in front of a homophobic evangelical demonstration as evidence of his determination to stand against targeted hate.
This is why I posted that photo the other day. Stuff like this unfortunately still exists. Not phased, I’ll just keep fighting against stuff like this til the day I die. https://t.co/OI29dCeNU2— Anthony Bowens (@Bowens_Official) December 9, 2021
Bowens discussed the incident further during an interview with TMZ Sports on Monday.
“Unfortunately, that kind of stuff comes with the territory, being an out LGBTQ athlete,” Bowens said. “This is actually the first time that I’ve audibly heard something like that during a performance or during television. It’s not indicative of the AEW fans at all.”
Despite the harmful language, Bowens, who wrestles in AEW as part of the tag team The Acclaimed, thought it was fortuitous that the moment was captured so clearly on the broadcast.
“I’m kind of glad it was [picked up on camera] because it just amplifies the message that we still have work to do,” Bowens said. “It also shows that there’s so much positivity out there.”
The out wrestler described himself as having “thick skin” to homophobic comments such as what was heard while he was in the ring. He credits that strength to wading through a slew of similar statements in the comment section of his and Pavano’s YouTube channel, “Michael & Anthony.”
“When we first started that, woof, the comments were brutal,” Bowens told TMZ Sports. “I can’t even repeat them. So we’re kind of just used to that, but there’s always kind of one person that kind of just oversteps the line.
“I’m not kind of the reactive type. I’m the type of person that likes to have a conversation. Honestly, if I did meet him, I’d sit him down and listen to him and I’d hope he’d listen to me and hope that we can find some common ground or at least educate him to why that was wrong to do … I hope the person grows.”