"Fernando Alcántar has been on a remarkable journey that could easily have cost him his life. But as we learn in this challenging memoir, he has fought his way to the other side and came out whole with a clear understanding of his sexuality, his spirituality, and his mission in life. Fernando is an inspiration!" —Eric Marcus, co-author, Coming Out to Play (with Robbie Rogers) and Breaking the Surface (with Greg Louganis)

In this exceptionally moving and soul-searching memoir, Fernando Alcántar recounts his incredible journey from poor Catholic boy on the dusty streets of Mexico to globetrotting missionary and high-profile Christian leader in the United States—where he eventually left his celebrated life behind to advocate for the liberating power of reason and equality. With heart-wrenching honesty, he shares stories of trauma, tragedy, prejudice, uncertainty, survival, and, ultimately, discovery. In the process, he gives a voice to thousands who are hiding in the shadows, afraid to publicly question their religious or sexual identity for fear of isolation and retaliation. He also makes a call for tolerance and understanding, while heralding the natural beauty of human qualities like courage, kindness, and love. 

Although Alcántar's story is a highly personal one, history shows that the best way to chart any new journey is to first see how others have traveled before—whether to avoid their missteps or to uncover a well-trodden path. So join him on his fascinating and enlightening journey of adventure, celebration, despair, reflection, and, finally, liberation. You will discover that his is not simply a Mexican story or an American story, a heterosexual’s story or homosexual’s story, a Christian’s story or an atheist’s story. Rather, his is a universal story­—one uniquely about and for our times.

Fernando shares, with heart-wrenching honesty, his difficult journey through religion and the ultimate fall from faith. Born into Catholicism, becoming a globetrotting missionary for one of the largest evangelical colleges in the country, becoming a denominational leader in Mexico and the US, his eventual crisis of faith and time in Mormon Utah are all chronicled in his journals of internal process, doubt and enlightenment which takes you first circle to the cross and back.

Fernando opens up about the most difficult and personal secrets of his life. From memories of abuse as a child, to times of reckless debauchery as a teenager, to stories of tragedy that almost cost him his life as an adult. Poverty, gangs, mental illness, and near-death experiences shape his life and define his need for belonging. This is a journey with casualties, but also a journey of endurance with a a stubborn hope in humanity and a never-ending hope in the future, even when light seems dimmest.

Fernando shares his coming of age curiosity and his lust for life in this inspiring saga. This is first and foremost a story of life, love, and stubborn faith in humanity. From exploring the world's cultures, adventures in the wild outdoors, pursuing a restoration with his past, experimenting with his sexuality, and seeking inner peace after the storm, this is an edge-of-your-seat story that will make you believe again that it is worth it to throw caution out the window and live live to the fullest.

PRAISE FOR 'TO THE CROSS AND BACK'

“This is as much an adventure and coming-of-age story as it is a coming-out story (both gay and atheist). It clearly shows how sincere and fervent religious belief erodes when logic and clear thinking creep in. Beware, Christian fundamentalists—this book is dangerous to your beliefs, but is a secular blessing to the rest of us.” —Linda LaScola, co-founder, The Clergy Project; co-author, Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind

THE STORY WILL CHALLENGE YOU
"This is an inspiring, moving, and tremendous story of a man's journey through life. We can relate to the everyday battles but also understand the larger life battles of which are from another person's shoes whom we may never have considered. The story will challenge you mentally, emotionally, and morally at times. This is a great book and if the reader can enter with an open mind, understanding the need to see the other side of the pillow, and try to place yourself in the shoes of the author then this will be an amazing book." - Matthew Gochis, Utah
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I'VE READ IN A WHILE
"This is one of the best books I have read in a while. i could not put it down, I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. It is a heartfelt story of his journey to find peace and himself. I was on the edge of my seat at times; it made me laugh, it made me cry and made me feel better about the person I am. The world needs more like Fernando Alcántar!" - Elizabeth Blick, Pennsylvania
THINGS PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO SAY
"Reading this book felt more like sneaking into his room and grabbing his private journal. He shares things in this book that most people are too afraid to say or think. To publish such a book takes a lot of courage, especially when you lay your whole heart bare for the world to see. This is a great coming of age story. Your heart strings will be tugged as you join Fernando on his wild adventure from childhood to manhood. Life doesn’t always happen the way we want it to happen… but Fernando is one of those people who never gives up and always keeps fighting, for himself and above all for others." - Richard Moseley, California
HIS ABILITY TO REACH MY EMOTIONS CAUGHT ME OFF GUARD
"A great book from someone who's had an interesting life. He's very candid with personal key moments and inner thoughts. This isn't strictly about his struggle with religion. His struggle with being too "white" in Mexico and too "Mexican" in America is refreshing. His battle with homosexuality is compounded due to his struggles with religion and culture. He goes into details about all three struggles bringing up aspects I would never think of. His point of view is very different than mine causing me to reflect on my life. His ability to reach my emotions caught me off guard." - Daniel Midani, California
INTENSE, PASSIONATE READ
"Autobiography of a brave struggle to realize that the loss of both an absent birth father and an absent adoptive one, cannot be replaced by a third absent Father. This memoir details a journey of wishing and hoping for clear answers, to instead accepting the complex, uncertain and layered reality of adulthood. Recommend this intense, passionate read to those experiencing confusion or doubt about their faith." - Eleanor Cowan, author
WILL KEEP YOU GLUED TO THE PAGES
"It is a multi-layered personal journey that shows the very many aspects immigrants face even prior to becoming immigrants. This story will keep you glued to the pages providing you with a rare insight in the mind of this particular young man. The author guides us through a challenging mental path often traveled unconsciously, but as time progresses, his clarity of thinking, reasoning, and his personal relationship with reality will simultaneously bring tears and joy to the reader. As a novel, it would have been a very good one, as a real story, it's magnificent!" - David Tamayo, Virginia