It was, according to All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the biggest World Championship event in pro wrestling history. It happened this past weekend at London’s famed Wembley Stadium, where some 80,000 fans watched out gay wrestler Anthony Bowens and his two partners — regular tag team partner Max Caster along with teammate Billy Gunn — win in the Trios category. It was a big night for Bowens and for wrestling fans everywhere.
The popular wrestler has been turning many into believers lately. He came out as bisexual in January 2017 and then later as gay, making history in 2022 when he and Caster, a tag team in AEW (a rival of WWE) known as The Acclaimed, won the company’s world tag team championship for the first time. The win made Bowens, 32, the first openly gay wrestler to win an AEW championship.
In a 2019 video where he announced, alongside his boyfriend, that he preferred to be labeled as gay, Bowens said he grew up believing he was heterosexual until he discovered an attraction for men in high school. “I identified myself as bisexual because I didn’t know much about the LGBTQ community,” he explained.
Speaking recently with Pride Source’s Chris Azzopardi, Bowens discussed his own experiences being openly LGBTQ+ compared to that of his out peers, including Nyla Rose, the first openly trans woman to sign with a major pro wrestling company.
“I can’t speak to Nyla, I don’t know what her experience is, but I do know that there are always horrible people out there,” Bowens said. “And I’m not clear from hate either, because two years ago in Long Island somebody was yelling out, calling me the F-word. I didn’t hear it in the ring, but it came out over the broadcast and it caused a bit of a hoopla. But he got reprimanded, and I believe he was escorted out. A lot of people now are policing that when they hear stuff like that.”
Outside of the ring, Bowens has made, not surprisingly, quite a few new fans lately by posing for Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Pride underwear line in June. In those photos, he's wearing no less than he does when he wrestles. Hotness, of course, is not a requirement for role model status, a title Bowens has earned given his groundbreaking wins.
“It means a lot because I may not have went through what other people have gone through, but what I went through was shitty,” he told Azzopardi about being his journey. “A lot of mental anguish, a lot of feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. A lot of stress. A lot of fear, a lot of anxiety. I just wish I could go back and tell younger Bowens that everything will be OK.”