How A Youtube Challenge Helped This Pro Wrestler Come Out As Bisexual

“I couldn’t help but cry as I let loose all of the years of stress, anxiety and fear of judgment.”

Pro wrestler Anthony Bowens credits a silly YouTube video for giving him the courage to come out as bisexual.

The nature of his job—namely, grappling other muscular, scantily clad men—made the 26 year old nervous about coming out to colleagues and fans. He even asked his boyfriend, Michael Pavano, if they could keep their relationship on the DL—at least temporarily.

I'd like to introduce you to my better half @michaelpavano. Give him a #follow, he's kinda cool haha

A post shared by Anthony Bowens (@bowens_official) on

But several months into dating, the two participated in the YouTube “the laughing challenge,” which entails taking a big swig of water before watching funny clips and trying not to do a spit take. At the beginning of the video, Pavano casually introduces Bowens as “my boyfriend.”

“The video was a blast to do, but I worried that someone from the wrestling world would stumble across it and learn my secret,” Bowens explains in an essay on OutSports,. “I decided to let it be posted anyway.”

Nothing happened right away, but within a few weeks Bowens got a text from a close wrestling friend that he says made his stomach drop: “Bro, why didn’t you tell me?”

To Bowens’ relief, his friend reassured him that he would always accepted him. But he also let him know other wrestlers had tipped him off about the video.

“I was relieved that he was cool with everything but a bit nervous because other wrestlers knew,” Bowens recalls. “It was after this that I came to the conclusion that I had a decision to make.”

He also felt asking Pavano to be in the closet with him was unfair. “He liked me enough to put that to the side [but] I did make a promise that it wouldn’t be forever.”

Bowens had known he was bisexual since high school, when “I started to notice that I’d see a couple walk down the street and think how attractive both the guy and the girl were.”
He came out to his closest friends and family, all of whom were supportive.

He kept his orientation quiet as a college baseball player, though, and again when became a pro wrestler at age 21. Later, when he started gaining success in the ring and making appearances on WWE shows like Raw and Smackdown, Bowens became increasingly scared that being outed as bi would tank his career.

But after garnering support from his friend after the YouTube video, he knew it was time to speak his truth. He came out as bisexual in a Facebook post in January, and was relieved to receive overwhelmingly supportive feedback.

“I couldn’t help but cry as I let loose all of the years of stress, anxiety and fear of judgment,” he admits. “It was the best decision I had ever made.”

I believe that true, well-told stories have the power to change the world for good. I also love a good listicle.