My name is Anthony Bowens, and I’m a professional wrestler, commercial actor, & YouTuber. I also identify as gay. Throughout a large portion of my young adult life, I struggled with my sexuality and the thought of coming out to the world. I wondered how my fans and fellow wrestlers would react, and I thought my career would most likely be over.
Despite this fear, in January of 2017, I made a brief Facebook post and came out to the world. I then followed up by writing an article, and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. With all the messages from all over the world that I received, I knew that I had made the right decision. I had a responsibility to use my platform to be a positive role model and to help other athletes or people who can relate to my story.
In this process, I hope to also create change in the sports entertainment world. Professional Wrestling traditionally has had LGBTQ characters, but they were often stereotypes and sometimes portrayed negatively as outcasts. I’m happy to say that the wrestling industry has evolved for the better and there are a number of us successfully performing on the independent scene. However, there is still work to be done. Having more representation and visibility is extremely important in the fight for equality, and also gives LGBTQ youth people to look up to. As I was struggling with myself, I didn’t have anyone with a major platform to look up and to relate to. It’s an extremely lonely feeling, and I hope to be a person in sports entertainment that is looked at as a beacon of hope.
In my journey, I’ve encountered a large number of athletes that expressed the same fear that I had before coming out and I’m often asked, “What would be your advice to them?” It’s sometimes hard to answer because everyone is in different situations, but I usually say this: Don’t let the fear of the unknown prevent you from playing the sport that you love and from living your dreams. Sometimes there’s this feeling of hopelessness, but I promise it doesn’t last forever. There are people like myself and many others who are fighting to make this world a better place for you. Stay positive, keep working hard, and never give up.
It’s because of all this that I’m excited to partner with Athlete Ally. I’m looking forward to having opportunities to interact directly with athletes (whether they are LGBTQ or not) about creating inclusive environments, ending homophobia in locker rooms, and helping to inspire individuals to be champions both on and off the field.
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