Pro wrestler Anthony Bowens publicly came out as bisexual in an OutSports article last spring. His initial concern was that it would negatively impact his career, but Bowens says he didn't expect to see a barrage of online comments questioning the validity of bisexuality.
"I thought there would be more negativity around the stigma of [a pro wrestler] being part of the LGBT community," Bowens said during a recent interview on Party Foul Radio with Pollo & Pearl. "But the negativity came more from people getting in arguments over bisexuality."
"If it weren’t for wrestling, I probably would have come out a long time ago," Bowens said in an interview with Podomatic’s No. 1 LGBTQ Podcast. "But I didn’t know how people would react."
The pressure to stay closeted took a toll on him. "I like to consider myself an emotionally strong person," Bowens said. "But I did have my moments where, if I was by myself, I would cry thinking about it."
But once he realized that many of his colleagues already knew about his sexuality, Bowens decided to speak publicly. "You can’t control what people are going to think, but at some point, you have to look past that, be yourself and not care," he said.
Although Bowens received an "overwhelming" number of kind messages after he came out, he also faced a stigma he didn't expect. Bowens was initially worried about how people would view a bisexual professional wrestler, but instead he saw comments questioning the validity of his sexuality. There was a general debate about “what it means to be bi, am I really gay and hiding...all this other stuff," he recalls.
Until he came out, Bowens didn't realize that bisexual people face a unique stigma and that some individuals doubt its very existence.
"You can date a dude — or marry a dude and be with him the rest of your life — and that doesn’t change the attraction. The stimulation doesn’t change," he said. "That’s the reason why it’s LGBTQ — lesbian, bisexual…The LGBTQ community comes in all shapes and sizes."
Between 40 and 50 percent of the LGBTQ community identifies as bisexual, but they are frequently left out of the narrative. Beth Sherouse, PH.D wrote that she's been told she has nothing to complain about because she can "choose" to pass as straight.
Bisexual men and women are also at a greater risk of sexual violence. According to statistics gathered by the Human Rights Campaign, 46 percent of bisexual women have been raped (compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians) and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence (compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men).