Professional wrestler Anthony Bowens, who is gay, says his recent championship win can serve as a reminder that the odds are getting better.
On September 21, Bowens and Max Caster, a tag team from AEW (a WWE rival) known as The Acclaimed, won the Company’s World Tag Team Championship for the first time. The win made Bowens the first openly gay wrestler to win an AEW Championship.
Shortly after his big win, Bowens, 31, celebrated the milestone while extending a heartfelt message to all those struggling within.
“I’m going to take a second to talk about something I don’t talk about on camera much,” he began in a video recently posted to his social media accounts, becoming visibly emotional. “Some of you know this, some of you may not know this, but I never thought I could live a moment like this. I never thought I could live my dream because there was a time when I was very confused and I didn’t know how to accept myself. But I fought through those bulls —. I fought through all those bulls — And now I cry because I’m a champion.
“So if you’re someone, if you’re someone who feels like me – and it doesn’t even have to be about your sexuality; you may be depressed, you may be bullied, if life in general sucks – just know that everything is getting better. We are living proof of that,” he added. “I love you. We love you. But most importantly, everyone loves The Acclaimed.
Bowens has been a spirited standard bearer for the LGBTQ+ community, speaking out about the importance of inclusivity.
Addressing the Asbury Park Press prior to his championship victory, Bowens addressed his earlier fears of potential abuse in the wrestling community for being gay.
“I’ve struggled with my acceptance of myself and my identity, and it’s always been a huge fear. ‘Will the locker room accept me? Will national TV audiences accept a gay man? who made it as a professional wrestler?” Bowens remarked.
Bowens added that while the wrestling industry has some way to go to ensure inclusiveness, it no longer carries the burden of its old fears.
“We still have a ways to go, but AEW has an extremely inclusive roster in the sense that I never have to worry about any of that,” he explained. “In fact, if it ever happens, it’s in a very positive and encouraging way. And it’s one of my favorite things about coming to work, I don’t have to worry about it.
A day after the championship win, Bowens celebrated on Twitter with a nod to his late grandmother and highlighting his victory as a momentous moment for the LGBTQ+ community.
“When my grandmother died in 2015, I promised her that I would succeed. Nana, I succeeded! says the Tweeter. “AEW’s first gay champion. Most tag teams win at AEW. Most popular team in wrestling.
On Twitter, Bowens’ emotional speech after the victory received messages of support, appreciation and pride from fans.
“Words will never explain how much this video meant to me,” a user commented. “I’m in one of the darkest times of my life right now. AEW has been a big distraction for me lately. Seeing you win those titles has been the biggest Grand Slam moment for me. Keep it up. That my brother! You inspire a lot!”