AEW star Anthony Bowens is opening up about the fan who shouted a homophobic slur at him last week ... telling TMZ Sports he's glad the incident was captured on video, 'cause it proves there's still more work to be done towards inclusion.
"Unfortunately that kind of stuff comes with the territory, being an out LGBTQ athlete," Bowens says.
"This is actually the first time that I've audibly heard something like that during a performance or during television."
Bowens -- who came out as bisexual in 2017, but now identifies as gay -- tells us it's something he's gotten used to after going public ... saying when he started a YouTube channel with his boyfriend, they received similar, if not, worse treatment.
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"I have really thick skin, I'm kind of used to it from my boyfriend Michael and I," Anthony said. "We have our YouTube channel and when we first started that the comments were brutal."
"I can't even repeat them."
But Bowens makes it clear his time at AEW has been nothing but great ... and this was an isolated incident.
"This is not indicative of the AEW fans at all," Bowens said. "Any interactions I've had with them since starting the company have all been positive."
As for AEW, Bowens expressed his gratitude toward the company for supporting him throughout the entire ordeal ... and making him feel comfortable enough to be himself.
There's more -- Bowens also told us don't rule out the possibility of seeing him and his tag team partner, Max Caster, with gold around their waist in the very near future.