Professional wrestler Anthony Bowens penned a letter to All Elite Wrestling fans thanking them for supporting his career after coming out years ago.

The openly gay athlete has been wrestling for a decade and is currently one-third of “The Acclaimed” with Max Caster and Billy Gunn. He has had significant triumphs like holding the title of the organization’s World Trios Champions and becoming a one-time AEW World Tag Team Champion since he signed a five-year deal in 2020 with the professional wrestling promo company.



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When the New Jersey native was recently presented with the opportunity to pen a letter published in The Players’ Tribune, instead of doing the typical letter to his younger self, he chose a different route: addressing indie wrestling fans.

“Because when I think about where I’ve gotten to over these last several years, and over this last year in particular, one thing I keep coming back to is that I’ve been able to get there while staying true to myself,” he wrote. “I’ve been able to succeed in wrestling as a Black gay man while still being me. And I don’t take for granted the role you’ve all played in making that possible.”

He opened up about the significance of being authentic because for the longest time, he wasn’t, and believes that’s what stopped him from being picked up by WWE when he auditioned in 2014.

“So I botched my tryout promos pretty badly. I remember William Regal telling me I had ‘four out of five’ traits they’re looking for in a prospect. The only trait where I was falling short was ‘personality,'” the 32-year-old said. “Which is funny to think about on some level — like, only in wrestling could a potential employer turn you down by saying, Come back when you have a personality!! But that’s more or less what happened.”

“But at the same time, I think I knew the truth: 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,” he added.

Coming out wasn’t as hard as Bowens thought it would be. Instead, he felt relieved because he was supported and not ostracized.

“Eventually I went from telling Greg to telling the rest of my best friends and my family. Then a few years later, I met my boyfriend, Michael Pavano, which changed everything,” he said. “With Michael, I felt I had all that I needed and wanted. And it made me realize that I had this unique chance: to help make wrestling a better place for future performers who might be struggling like I’d been.”

After he disclosed his sexual identity privately with family and close friends, he went public with the news in 2017, and shared he was “bisexual.” In 2022, after becoming more comfortable in his skin, he was able to lean in on the term “gay,” and updated his fanbase via video, according to Into More.

“I got so much support when I came out. But I also didn’t just want to be known as ‘the wrestler who came out,’ or ‘the gay wrestler,'” he said. “I wanted to be known as this successful wrestler … who happens to be gay and out and proud. And the history of wrestling (and sports in general) isn’t exactly filled with people who’ve been able to have that.”

Bowens is happy that his talent has been at the forefront more than his personal life. Having the opportunity to do what he loves and to be a representation of minorities and the LGBTQ+ community on a major platform, especially as an athlete, is a true testimony for him. He deems his wrestling career wouldn’t have been as prominent without consistent fans who show up and show out for him, so he ended the letter by showing them appreciation.

“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,” the champion said. “Thanks for letting a queer Black kid from New Jersey live out his wrestling dream. Thanks for coming to this party just as you are. We’re glad you’re here.”


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