When he was a teen, Anthony Bowens threw himself into the world of wrestling in an attempt to counteract his intense shyness.
It worked to a degree — but coming out as bisexual still proved to be a tremendous challenge.
Bowens — a handsome 27-year-old athlete signed to BMG Models who wrestles under the alias “Vigilante” — tells Attitude about his experiences being bullied as a child and the adjustments that needed to be made before he could live as an openly bisexual man in the world of pro-wrestling.
Bowens came out publicly in September 2016 alongside his boyfriend, the popular YouTube personality Michael Pavano.
It almost didn’t happen.
“Michael wasn’t angry,” Bowens said, but I saw he was disappointed and that broke my heart.”
Eventually he worked up the nerve and told the world he was bi — something he’d known about himself since adolescence.
“I think it was somewhere in the middle of high school”, he tells Attitude for their annual “Body Issue.”
“I was sitting at a table and a couple were walking down the street and I was like ‘Wow that girl’s beautiful.’
Then I noticed that I was also looking to see who she was holding hands with and I was like ‘That guy’s kind of attractive too…’”
By coming out as bi, Bowens had to deal with a stigma from both guileless members of the straight community and the often artless, militantly closed-minded gay community.
On both sides of the barbed-wire fence, Bowens would be labeled “gay” by people who questioned bisexuality and its legitimacy on the sexuality spectrum.
“I didn’t know that there was this big — I wouldn’t say ‘war’ — but discrepancy. Which wasn’t the point of me coming out,” Bowens says.
“If I was with a woman — or anybody was with a woman — and they married her, and they were with her for the rest of their lives, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re still stimulated by men.
That doesn’t make you straight, you’re still bi.”
These days, Bowens isn’t overly concerned with how people label him.
“If you were to call me gay I’d be like ‘OK’. I’m not going to get pissy over it, you can call me what you like.”
Original photos by Greg Vaughan, shot exclusively for Attitude‘s Body Issue. The rest are culled from Bowen’s Instagram account.