A new start after 60: ‘I was a frustrated opera singer – then I found my voice as a man of God’

When Wesley Rowell realised he was gay, he swapped church for the library, and became a performer. Then, in his seventh decade, he heard the call to join a seminary

Wesley Rowell hoped to make it as an opera singer. A bass-baritone, he supported his ambitions and auditions with singing jobs in churches in Chicago and New York, and as a luxury salesperson, selling expensive pots of face cream. Then, at 60, he found a different kind of voice – and started seminary at Princeton with a mission to “reclaim God’s queerness”.

No one was more surprised than Rowell, who is now 61. “If somebody said to me three years ago: ‘You’ll be going to a seminary,’ it would have been a ridiculous joke.” His mother, however, “a very serene, soft” 91-year-old, “just smiled and said: ‘Well, I guess your grandmother was right.’” Rowell’s grandfather was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church in the family’s hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and his grandmother had raised the possibility that one of the grandchildren might follow that path.

Tell us: has your life taken a new direction after the age of 60?

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