Let’s put all the stereotypes on the mat: we assume male athletes are toxic, aggressive louts who simmer in self-loathing until it erupts in assault under the guise of sport, right?
Wrong, says Anthony Bowens. The bodaciously bodied wrestler is finding healthy avenues to channel his passion ever since coming out of the closet half a decade ago.
5 years ago I was still closeted & living in constant fear about how coming out would affect my dream of wrestling. Last night, we got to sit down with @PaulWight & talk about it with the wrestling world. 🤯 Thank you @AEW for letting me be me. 🌈 #CriticallyAcclaimed #MicDrop pic.twitter.com/YwTKOy9wvP
— Anthony Bowens (@Bowens_Official) April 20, 2021
“Of course, this didn’t come without its struggles, though,” Bowens tells Paul Wight in a man-to-man-on-man interview. “I mean, at least for Anthony Bowens, for me, I’ve been doing this for eight years. I’ve had a lot of carrots dangled in front of me. I represent the LGBTQ community. I’m an openly gay professional wrestler, so I had a lot of years of living in fear of whether I would be able to do this or not.”
Fear is the key word in Bowens’ deceptively simple pep talk. We grew up on a steady diet of intimidation. Wrestling was a staple of our collective youth, along with sugary cereals and unexpected body hair.
When children of the 80s, 90s and beyond were plunked down in front of a TV set, they were inundated with archetypes of masculinity that we needed to emulate… or else.
The ridiculous narratives of pro wrestling seemed real to us. Hey, we were just dumb kids. But what seems so cheesy to us now was bracingly real in the parks and playgrounds where we cavorted in our formative years.
Games like smear the queer dominated our fractured upbringing. Gay was a pejorative rather than being the celebratory declaration it deserves to be. While televised wrestling can’t be blamed for all of the indiscretions in our misguided, pop-culture stained existence, it has a major influence on our current climate.
The divisiveness of the past was a tremor jostling the ropes of a metaphorical arena, but those forces have transformed from destructive into instructive and now manifest as the rippling contours of Anthony Bowens. He is subverting the anguish that once consumed wrestling and he is converting it to raw power.
“To even be here is an incredible opportunity and I’m extremely grateful for it.”
Thank you, Anthony, for a paradigm shift that embraces all queer and questioning fans. After years of discounting the sport as homophobic hogwash, we’re tapping back in for another round. Ring-a-ding-ding.
Photo: Twitter @Bowens_Official
Last modified: May 1, 2021