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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 293 > GRAPPLING WITH THE TRUTH

GRAPPLING WITH THE TRUTH

ANTHONY BOWENS TURNED TO PRO-WRESTLING TO OVERCOME HIS CHRONIC SHYNESS BUT FEARED COMING OUT AS BISEXUAL COULD BE HIS TOUGHEST BATTLE. HE TELLS ATTITUDE WHY HE THOUGHT THE TIME WAS RIGHT, HIS SURPRISE AT THE REACTION, AND THE SIMILARITY BETWEEN HIS SPORT AND GAME OF THRONES
Anthony wears tracksuit jacket, by Gucci at Matches Fashion
Anthony wears swim shorts, by Versace at Selfridges, trainers, by Nike, socks, stylist’s own

ANTHONY BOWENS

Back in September 2016, professional wrestler Anthony Bowens recorded a goofy “challenge” video for YouTube with his boyfriend Michael Pavano. In it, the couple attempt not to laugh as they watch funny videos while holding a mouthful of water, trying not to spit it out.

They’re adorable together and it’s difficult not to laugh along with them. While their antics racked up nearly 200,000 views, the most significant part of the video came when personal trainer Michael introduced Anthony as his boyfriend. It was the first public acknowledgement of their relationship, and the first time Anthony had admitted publically that he was attracted to men. Pro-wrestlers build careers on dressing up in muscle-flaunting outfits, climbing into a ring, and grappling with other men — but despite a job that might seem homoerotic from the outside, very few are openly gay or bisexual.

And certainly nobody in Anthony’s macho wrestling circle knew about his sexuality. “I kinda tensed up because I was like: ‘oh, no one knows yet’, and I said to Michael: ‘I don’t think you can put that up’”, Anthony explains as we’re sitting down for coffee in the courtyard of a little café in New York after his photoshoot. It’s one of those intensely bright but chilly days and we’re both holding our mugs tight. “Michael wasn’t angry, but I saw he was disappointed and that broke my heart”, 27-year-old Anthony continues. So, after a lot of thought, Anthony hit upload and let his big secret out into the world.

Nothing catastrophic happened and nobody in the wrestling community said a word. But two months later, a fellow wrestler and good friend sent Anthony a text. It asked why he had never said anything. Anthony recalls: “My stomach dropped because I knew what he was talking about. I tried to pretend that I didn’t know, and he was like, ‘Bro, I saw the video’.”

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About Attitude

On the cover, wrestling star Anthony Bowens! Plus, our BODY ISSUE special looks at the joys of ageing, and your guide to the backside. Plus, Team USA’s out gay winter Olympian Adam Rippon.