Fred Bowers, long-time gay activist and leader in the Affirmation (LGBT Mormons) community, was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, by his mother, Elva, a single mother of four sons who worked as a seamstress and taught them the importance of faith, education, the arts, and public service. Fred attended the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church during his youth. After graduating high school at the top of his class, Fred enrolled in Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) in Texas, where he studied music composition and mechanical engineering. While at PVAMU, he was a member of the PVAMU "Marching Storm" Band and became a member of the Delta Psi chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national band fraternity. Fred served as the president of the chapter while at PVAMU.
Fred left PVAMU in 1981 and enlisted in the United States Air Force (USAF). He served both overseas and continental U.S. assignments. During his USAF career, he served in several noncommissioned officer roles with increasing responsibility, culminating in his retirement after 21 years of service at the rank of Master Sergeant.
Fred's career in the USAF started at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) Alaska, where his relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Church began. Upon relocating to Washington, D.C., in 1988, Fred served his faith community as a Youth Sunday School Instructor. He also received his LDS temple endowment at the Washington D.C. temple.
During this period, Fred came out as a gay man. He began his involvement with Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families, and Friends while attending a local ward in the Washington D.C. area. Eventually, he became the Chapter Director of the Washington D.C. chapter for several years. During military assignments overseas and in Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Texas, Fred remained involved in Affirmation, serving as Affirmation Chapter-at-Large Director during the tenure of three Affirmation Executive Directors. He also served as Special Assistant to the Executive Committee on Strategic and Business Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Strategy and Development, and Affirmation Conference Chairperson in 2012. Each year, the Affirmation community presents the Mortensen Award to members who have significantly and positively impacted the lives of those within Affirmation. Fred won this award in 2012. He founded Affirmation's LGBT People of Color and Allies (now LGBT People of the Global Majority/Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (PGM/BIPOC)) and Affirmation Pioneers (formerly Prime (Ages 50+)) groups. Fred also co-chaired Affirmation's history-making 2017 Intersectionality Workshop/Leadership Retreat, which focused on under-represented intersectional groups within the LGBTQ Mormon community. His 24 years of service to Affirmation concluded by serving on its Board of Directors from 2011-2017.
Fred is a subject matter professional in the intersectional experiences of being PGM/BIPOC, gay, and Mormon. He has presented at Affirmation, Sunstone Foundation symposiums, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) conferences on the intersection of these three life experiences. Fred's 2012 Sunstone presentation, Riding Our Double Rainbows to Heaven: Experiences of LGBT Mormons of Color in the Modern World, covered the stories and issues encountered by LGBT Mormon POC in their daily lives. His National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change 2018 presentation LGBT POC in White Institutional Faith Spaces covered the major challenges LGBT POC face in White institutional faith spaces.
Fred continued his formal education at John Brown University in Little Rock, Arkansas, attending from 1998-2000 and earning a B.S. in Organizational Management. After studying Financial Management at the Community College of the Air Force, he earned dual M.A. degrees in Public Administration and Management from Webster University in 2004.
Fred transitioned from the USAF Force in 2006 and began his career in management consulting, primarily serving federal clients. Fred has worked at two Big Four Consulting Firms (Deloitte and KPMG), drawing upon his expertise in federal project and program management, financial management, transformation delivery, and Department of Defense (DoD) information technology acquisition with numerous clients.
While employed by Deloitte and KPMG, he served/serves in leadership roles for LGBTQ employee resource groups: local chapter Co-Chair (Deloitte and KPMG), local Senior Sponsor (KPMG), and National Committee Member (KPMG). He also served on the Out and Equal's Workplace Advocates People of Color Advisory Committee (Deloitte).
Fred served the local Washington D.C. LGBTQ community from 2010-2016 through his board leadership and non-profit work with Brother Help Thyself as the Grant Chair and Director for Defenders Washington. He also served as President for Defenders Washington (associated with Dignity USA – LGBTQ Catholics). Fred was one of Kappa Kappa Psi's National Program Committee members from 2019-2023.
In 2020, Fred returned to serve Affirmation as a Board Member Emeritus, leading its PGM/BIPOC community operations, and began serving as PGM/BIPOC director in 2022.
Fred lives in Maryland with his spouse of five years, Edward Reilly.
(This biographical statement written by Mark Bowman from information provided by Fred Bowers and was edited by Bowers.)
Biography Date: September 2023
Bowers' "Riding Our Double Rainbows to Heaven" presentation to Sunstone magazine can be heard at this link: https://sunstone.org/riding-our-double-rainbows-to-heaven-experiences-of-lgbt-mormons-of-color-in-the-modern-world/
Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) | Activist (religious institutions) | Affirmation (Gay and Lesbian Mormons) | Black | Washington, D.C.
“Fred Bowers | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed February 25, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/fred-bowers.