Anthony Bowens is a professional wrestler who recently came out thanks to a YouTube video

By Jess Cagle
March 07, 2018 12:33 PM

NOTE FROM JESS CAGLE, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, PEOPLE AND ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:

In the moving comedy-drama Love, Simon (in theaters March 16) Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel star as the parents of Simon, a high schooler played by Nick Robinson who struggles to tell loved ones that he’s gay. Acceptance in America has increased dramatically in recent years, but coming out as LGBTQ is still a profound and often traumatic experience.

PEOPLE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, along with GLSEN, the non-profit that fights to make schools safe for all kids, invited individuals from all walks of life to share real-life coming out stories. COMING OUT STORIES (produced by Ryan Buxton) can be seen at people.com/comingoutstories and on PeopleTV (download the app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device).

Anthony Bowens
Instagram

Though Anthony Bowens has taken on some of professional wrestling’s most intimidating fighters, he didn’t feel comfortable to come out to his fellow athletes about his sexuality, that is, until he got a little help from his boyfriend.

The 27-year-old from New Jersey kept his bisexuality under wraps from friends and family for the majority of his life. Even when he entered a relationship with his boyfriend, Michael Pavano, Bowens asked him to keep their love a secret. It wasn’t until Pavano later uploaded a YouTube video that introduced Bowens as his boyfriend, and Bowens’ friends in the wrestling world viewed it, that he saw they were supportive of him. Coming out, he discovered, could be better than he thought.

This inspired Bowens to announce his sexuality to his loved ones in a Facebook post.

“I turned on my phone, and I read through all the comments that I’d received on the status. And it was overwhelmingly positive,” Bowens recalls. “And then I broke down. And it just …It was just a relief.”

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