“Coming Out” how did these two words put together become so scary, powerful, joyful, emotional and necessary for those that are different in the eyes of the world. Sometimes people experience these two words before they are ready by someone or something. Then there are those who work up the courage to experience these two words with close friends or family.
I never felt the need to share my story on social media platforms, but I do so in hope that my story would help someone, he, him, his, she, her, they, or them, to realize that no matter how hard it can be or the hell that they may be in, there are people in this world that love them for who they are or who they are becoming. I firmly believe that there is a higher power, that is full of love and understanding of our wants, needs and desires.
I consider myself blessed, with my family, friends, coworkers and now amazing finance. Being taught at a young age the power of prayer, hard work and being kind to all those I may come in contact with. This of course was a part of my upbringing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Let me say, I feel extremely lucky to have been brought up in a home that was centered on the Jesus Christ part of the faith. I do not have any ill feelings towards my upbringing or what I was taught, it has helped shape me into the man I am today. My youth leaders, my friends and my parents all contributed to the person that is known as Alec Fowler.
Rewind a decade and half to the days of getting on a school bus and walking the halls of my teenage years in Jr. High. My close friends started to get girlfriends, and so badly did I want to have one to “be cool too” but deep down I found myself doing double takes at other boys walking down the hall or sitting in behind the “cool jock” in science class. Why was I having these thoughts? This is not what I am supposed to be thinking or feeling….Oh he’s super cute…. Ok just keep going to seminary, praying and it will all workout. Forward a few years into high school and the feelings were not going away. Now we have a serious problem because I think I might, maybe I am Gay..…did I just say that…is anyone around me…nope that was just a thought in my head….only I heard that….but what to do?
During this teenage years, I continued to be faithful in my prayers, attending church and reading my scriptures on occasion. I worked during this entire time at a local nursery, learning and growing a love for plants and horticulture. We were a full-service nursery, being open year-round. Meaning we did pumpkins in the fall and celebrated Christmas with amazingly decorated trees. I loved decorating these trees and seeing the magic of taking a blank canvas and making it something that someone would want to put in their home. On occasion my boss who I respect and am so grateful to this day, would say “that looks really good, you know most people are at least 20% gay, you may have 30% with those skills” Inside I told myself, you are defiantly more than 30. But I wasn’t ready to “Come Out”, I couldn’t come to the terms of myself having that conversation with anyone but myself.
Like almost all 19-year-old boys, I put in my papers to serve a mission. Upstate, New York was going to become the place that fixed everything, I had made a deal with God, that I would give him two years serving faithfully and bringing people to the church that helped shape me. During this time, I met some of the most amazing people and made friendships that have continued to this day and will for the rest of my life. I would not trade those two years for anything, even though at the end of my mission, after doing my part. The feelings were still there and I still was what the world would call “Gay”. I was frustrated, I was upset and started to enter a time that was hard for me to be happy or feel like I was accomplishing anything. I was sick of every Sunday getting asked “any girls out there?”, “You have a girlfriend yet?” Attending a singles ward helped, but I still found myself double taking behind me at the boys sitting in the back row.
From the years 21-26 I had gotten the courage to talk to my church leaders about my feelings, for the most part that wasn’t helpful. They either didn’t understand how to talk to me or what to say. Or is was well you need serious help and let’s prevent you from going to hell. After leaving that interview and the thought of going to hell, I didn’t know what to do. So, like every person was doing in my generation I was on tinder and I switched my profile to start swiping “Male”. Looking back this was a big turning point in considering that maybe, just maybe I could be live as a gay. My Tinder game was stronger than it ever had been, talking with boys, about boys…WOW!
One day I decided that I should probably turn this tinder conversation into an actual meeting or dinner or whatever I was going to call it…So I met a boy for lunch, it was a rush! A full bag of mixed emotions. What was I going to say if I saw someone I knew, and what if I liked him? This started the time of me becoming the person that was inside of me.
I started “Coming Out” to close friends and coworkers, I was blessed to have these people in my life and worked for a place where it didn’t matter. You were loved for who you were. At the same time, I continued to do what I had been taught as a young boy, pray. I prayed daily to be able to know what to do. I began to grow this feeling that nothing was wrong with me, that I was the child of God he wanted me to be, that God is perfect and this was not a curse or phase. If I learned one thing during this time, it is that Heavenly Father lives, he loves each of us. We don’t have all the answers, nor will we in this life. That my Savior, Jesus Christ came to this earth and suffered for all of us and taught us the way to live. That is Love, and Love, and Love no matter. As it has been said as of late “Love Loud”, NO SIDES, ONLY Love.
Thanksgiving 2016, I have a large extended family who are some of the most caring and amazing people, I am blessed to have them in my life. But alas it was another family function where Alec didn’t have a girlfriend. I had gotten good at deflecting the questions and bringing up work or something else. On the car ride home that night, I struggled to hold back the tears of wondering what to do with my life. Deep down I knew my parents, my brothers, sister and spouses would accept me but what about my extended family, those that I have spent many holidays and time with.
For years, I played out hundreds of scenarios in my head of how I would “Come Out” to my parents, sibling’s and family. There were so many times where I almost threw up the words in my childhood kitchen or while driving in the car. It was a few weeks after Thanksgiving that I had come down to have dinner with my mom, while my dad was traveling for work. It was like any other dinner date that I had to come to love with my mom. We had a great dinner and we came back to the house, next thing I knew we were on the couch and I could not hold back the tears as I said that phrase that I had said in my head thousands of times “I am gay” it was a matter of seconds that her arms were wrapped around me and said “Son, I will always love you!”
Now I know this is not the experience that all my LGBT brothers and sisters get and I truly feel for those that don’t get accepted or told “I will always love you” If this is you, please know you are loved and there are places and people that want to throw their arms around you! Myself included. Please reach out, we are here for you!
That night, I drove home for the first time as my true self, as the person I was supposed to be. still a child of God, and a person of worth. At the same time, I wasn’t any different than the Alec Fowler that people had known for 26 years.
That conversation started many other conversations with those that I love and every time it was more and more Christ like love shown. I am blessed beyond measure to have my family and friends be so loving and supportive.
Now there are several more words and paragraphs that I could write. I could talk about the conversations that didn’t go so well and how even to this day there are people in mine and my families live that still struggle, which is understandable, it’s not the easiest topic to talk about. I just would suggest that if you have struggles with this topic that as hard as it is, have the courage to talk to the person about it. If you want the truth, go to the source. I would be happy to have a conversation and talk with you about who I am, me Alec Fowler.
If you would have told my Jr high self that I would be engaged to a boy! The most amazing, incredible handsome boy, I would have to told you that, that Disney “happy ever after” doesn’t exist. But I am here to tell you straight and gay peoples DREAMS come true.
Thank you for reading, I would ask that you remember, to love as our Savior did. We are all here to learn and grow and need each other. To those that are preparing or ready for their “Coming Out”, there is no rush, get to a place either on your own or with the help of friends and family where you feel comfortable. Also, each of our paths are different, and that is the way God planned it. Whatever path you choose, it is the path for you and I will love and support you.
Want to read another story like this one?
CLICK HERE for more!
This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.