And I think when you invite people in, you get to choose who you want to tell your story to. And you get to choose how you want to tell that story.
Richard fowler’s story
Richard, who are you besides all the accolades?
Oh, that’s a really good question. I am a brother. I am a son. I’m an advocate. I think most importantly, I’m a storyteller. I’ve been blessed with the ability to sort of see people for who they are. And I’ve been blessed with a platform that allows me to both amplify and tell really good stories. And I think that’s part of the gift that God gave me and I’m glad that I have the ability and the blessing to share that gift with the world and at the same time amplify the stories of really remarkable people.
Wow. That’s amazing. Do you think it’s still important to celebrate “Coming Out Day”?
I think it’s really important to celebrate coming out day. And I think it’s also really critical that as we sort of turn the page and begin to write the new chapter and celebrate our existence as LGBTQ+ individuals, we start to change the frame and we start to invite people into our stories. Because I think coming out is right and that we have to constantly retell our story over and over again. And I think when you invite people in, you get to choose who you want to tell your story to. And you get to choose how you want to tell that story. Coming out, I think, is very much this idea that I have to tell you and I have to live with how you feel about it and I have to digest your feelings about my lived experience.
We’re in an era where we don’t have to do that anymore. I think now it’s about living our lives and living our lives and truth and leaning into our lived experiences and understanding that our lived experiences and our existence are okay. And as we begin to write this new chapter, it also requires work which is why, as a storyteller, it’s my job to be part of helping society understand and grapple with the realities of what it means to be a member of the LGBTQIA community and what it means to live in the intersections of being a black man, being a black gay man, and also being a black gay man who lives in the community and all the existences and all the adjectives that come with that. And it’s complicated.
It’s nuanced. But in that nuance, there is beauty. There’s also beauty in living in that nuance. And I think for a very long time in our culture and our society, we’ve been forced into these black-and-white boxes. We’ve been forced to live in these very clean lines. And the truth of the matter is, what life teaches us is that there’s no such thing as clean lines. There’s no such thing as these beautifully drawn boxes. The truth of the matter is that some people’s lives are zigzags, and other people’s lives are circles and triangles. And if we as a culture and society can accept everybody’s different shapes and sizes, therein lies our innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, joy, and happiness.
Wow, that’s beautiful. So, I know you did say we choose who we want to tell our story to, but I’m going to ask you this. Who was the first person you came out to?
Oh, wow, that is a good one. So, I think for me, there were phases to it. The first person that I came out to was my older brother and a close cousin of mine. somebody I considered to be one of my sisters. And then from there, I sort of worked my way through the family and dealt with the agonizing after you tell somebody; this is who I am, waiting, and holding my breath for them to respond. I came out around the age of 24, or 25, and there were parts of my coming out story that was traumatic. But I think we have to begin to rewrite how we do this.
What was your brother and your cousin’s reaction when you came out to them?
I picked two people that I thought would have softer reactions to sort of prime myself for the harder reactions from some of the older folks in my family. So, I sort of knew that they were going to be more accepting. But once again, I go back to the same point that as a storyteller and as somebody who has sort of spent the past almost two decades of my life really honing on the craft of telling stories, I don’t think we should be in the business of telling stories to please the listener. And I often find that the coming out experience is just that. We try to nuance it especially, as you get older, you want to shape it in a way not to upset the listeners. So, you want to shape your coming out experience in a way that doesn’t upset mom or doesn’t upset dad. And in doing so, I think you take away the essence of who we are as people. And here’s the truth; what ends up happening also in this sort of old way of coming out is we’re forced to live in these neatly packed heteronormative boxes.
Thank you so much, Richard. So my last question will be, how do you recharge your batteries as a writer?
That is a really good question. I’m an empath. So, I’m somebody that’s constantly picking up and feeling into energies. When I’m writing somebody’s story or interviewing a subject, I try to feel what they bring in. And sometimes without trying to feel into it, I feel it. And so I try to feel into their word choice and those dynamics. And so when I’m not writing, I try to tune out all of those energies. And oftentimes, if I’m writing a big story, I will log my interview and I’ll wait a couple of days. I tell people all the time that oftentimes, yes, there are stories that I have to write on deadline but in writing big featured stories, I try to either give myself a lot of time or I try not to be on a deadline so I can log the interview and spend like two days not focused on it. Then I can sit down, write my first draft, and then go away for a day and come back to it. And so, within the writing process and within the writing period, I’m taking sort of micro-breaks away from the story to give the story and to give the subject’s voice time to breathe. And in giving the voice of the subject time to breathe, I’m also finding new understanding. And so it’s part of recharging my batteries is taking these micro-breaks. And I often find that in these micro-breaks, I’m given inspiration and divine providence that helps me write better.
Wow. That’s beautiful. Maybe I need to start taking micro breaks too. Thank you for your time today, Richard.