Troy Perry

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Troy Perry
TroyPerry2006-09-17.JPG
Perry preaching in 2006 at an MCC church in Minnesota
Born (1940-07-27) July 27, 1940 (age 78)
Tallahassee, Florida
Occupation Clergy
Known for Founding the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
Website revtroyperry.org

Troy Deroy Perry Jr (born July 27, 1940) is the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, a Christian denomination with a special affirming ministry with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, in Los Angeles on October 6, 1968.

Early life[edit]

Troy Perry is the eldest of five brothers born to "the biggest bootleggers in Northern Florida",[1][2] Troy Perry and Edith Allen. As early as he can remember, Perry felt called to preach, labeling himself as a "religious fanatic".[2] He was influenced by his aunts, who held street services in his hometown and who hosted Perry giving sermons from their home. Perry's father died fleeing the police when his son was eleven years old, cementing Troy's resolve to become involved in the church as much as possible. After his mother remarried and moved the family to Daytona Beach, Perry was abused by his stepfather and ran away from home, not returning until after she divorced him.[3]

His fanaticism increasing, Perry dropped out of high school,[4] and became a licensed Baptist preacher by the age of 15 years.[5] After Perry expressed his attraction towards males, his pastor suggested he marry a woman to resolve these feelings.[1] He married this preacher's daughter, Pearl Pinion, in 1959, later remembering, "I was always interested in pastor's daughters because I thought they would make good preacher's wives. I didn't love her when I married her, but I did love her after our first year."[6] They had two sons and relocated to Illinois where Perry attended Midwest Bible College and Moody Bible Institute. Perry was the preacher at a small Church of God and sometimes had sexual relationships with other men but considered it just youthful exploration. When he was 19 years old, however, church administrators told him one of the men he had been with had told them what they had done. He was forced to leave the church immediately.[7]

They moved to Southern California, where he pastored a Church of God of Prophecy. After Perry's wife found his copy of The Homosexual in America by Donald Webster Cory hidden under the mattress, their marriage quickly dissolved. They divorced after five years of marriage.[1] Perry was directed to pray about being led astray by his homosexual feelings and later was told by his bishop to renounce himself in the pulpit and resign. Perry worked in a Sears department store and was drafted for the army in 1965, during which time he served two years in Germany.[8]

Founding the Metropolitan Community Church[edit]

Perry in 1997, speaking at the Walk Without Fear march in support of LGBT rights

In 1968, after a suicide attempt following a failed love affair, and witnessing a close friend being arrested by the police a The Patch Bar, a Los Angeles gay bar, Perry felt called to return to his faith and to offer a place for gay people to worship God freely. Perry put an advertisement in The Advocate announcing a worship service designed for gays in Los Angeles. Twelve people turned up on October 6, 1968 for the first service, and "Nine were my friends who came to console me and to laugh, and three came as a result of the ad."[9] After six weeks of services in his living room, the congregation shifted to a women's club, an auditorium, a church, and finally to a theater that could hold 600 within several months. In 1971, their own building was dedicated with over a thousand members in attendance.

Being outspoken has caused several MCC buildings to be targeted for arson, including the original Mother Church in Los Angeles. Perry's theology has been described as conservative, but social action was a high priority from the beginning of the establishment of the denomination. Perry performed what Time Magazine described as the first public same sex unions in the United States as early as 1968 [10] and ordained women as pastors as early as 1972.[4]

MCC has more than 200 congregations (affiliated, emerging and oasis churches) in 33 countries.[11] The 2007 documentary film titled Call Me Troy is the story of his life and legacy, including the founding of MCC and his struggles as a civil rights leader in the gay community.

Activism[edit]

Perry's activism has taken many turns, including positions on a number of boards of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organizations. He held a seat on the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations in 1973. Perry worked in political arenas to oppose Anita Bryant in the Save the Children campaign in 1977, that sought to overturn an anti-discrimination ordinance passed by the city of Miami. Unsuccessful in Miami, he also worked to oppose the Briggs Initiative in California that was written to ensure gay and lesbian teachers would be fired or prohibited from working in California public schools. Beginning on September 4, 1977, Perry held a 16-day fast on the steps of the Federal Building in Los Angeles to raise funds to fight the initiative.[12] The Briggs Initiative was soundly defeated in 1978, due in large part to Perry and grass-roots organizing.The Briggs Initiative was soundly defeated in 1978, due in large part to grass-roots organizing, which Perry participated in.[13] Perry also planned the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979 with Robin Tyler.[14]

On June 28, 1970, Rev. Perry, with two friends, Mr. Morris Kight and Rev. Bob Humphries, founded Christopher Street West to hold an annual Pride Parade. It is the oldest gay pride parade in the world. Today there are Pride Parades held all over the world, which are the direct result of this action. Millions of people worldwide attend these events each year.[15]

In 1978 he was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Chapter with its Humanitarian Award. He holds honorary doctorates from Episcopal Divinity School in Boston,[16] Samaritan College (Los Angeles), and Sierra University in Santa Monica, California for his work in civil rights, and was recently lauded by the Gay Press Association with its Humanitarian Award. Rev. Perry has been invited to the White House on five occasions:[17]

  • in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter to discuss gay and lesbian rights;
  • in 1995 by President Bill Clinton as a participant in the first White House Conference on HIV and AIDS;[18]
  • in 1997 invited by President Clinton as a participant in the White House Conference on Hate Crimes;[19]
  • in 1997 again as a guest of President Clinton as an "honoree" at a White House breakfast with President honoring 100 national spiritual leaders in the USA.
  • in 2009, along with his partner Phillip, by President Barack Obama on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Stonewall.[20]

On Valentine's Day 2004 he spoke to a crowd of gay newlyweds at the Marriage Equality Rally at the California State Capitol.[21] He retired as Moderator of the MCC in 2005, and the Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson succeeded him at an installation service on 29 October 2005.[22]

In March 2017, Perry became the first American citizen honored with Cuba's CENESEX award. The 10th Cuban Gala Against Homophobia and Transphobia, held at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana, Cuba, was the setting where nearly 5,000 people gathered to honor Rev. Perry, including the US, French, Swiss ambassadors, as well as the Minister of Culture of Cuba. Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, and a member of the country's National Assembly, and Director of CENESEX, presented the award. He was given the award for his long history of working for human rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community worldwide.[23]

He remains active in public speaking and writing.

Writings and Media[edit]

In addition to his work as a gay religious leader and human rights activist, Perry has written an autobiography, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay, first published in 1972 by Nash Publishing.[24] He has written a sequel to this book, titled Don't Be Afraid Anymore,[25] published in 1990 by St. Martin's Press and Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage[26] also published by St. Martin's in 1992. He is a contributing editor for the book Is Gay Good? and the subject of another book, Our God Too. In 2003, he completed 10 Spiritual Truths For Gays and Lesbians[27]* (*and everyone else!).

Early Television Appearances include:

  • Virginia Graham Show, Sept 7, 1970[28]
  • Mike Douglas Show, Week of July 9, 1973[29]
  • Phil Donohue Show[30]
  • Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, June 4, 1974[31]

Early Appearance in Print Publications include:

  • Playboy Magazine, Sept 1973, Vol. 2, No. 9[32]

Film Appearances include:

  • Sign of Protest,[33] Documentary, Pat Rocco Director, 1970
  • God, Gays and the Gospel,[34] Documentary, 1984
  • Upstairs Inferno,[35] Documentary, Robert L. Camina Director, 2015

Audio Appearances include:

  • StoryCorp Rev. Troy Perry,[36] Producers Liyna Anwar and Eve Claxton

Print Articles on Perry include:

  • The Pastor Behind the Gay Marriage Ruling,[37] Christian Century, John Dart, June 17, 2008

Personal life[edit]

Perry's mother became the first heterosexual member of the Metropolitan Community Church and supported her son until she died in 1993.[38] He was reunited with his younger son, Michael, and performed the marriage uniting him and his daughter-in-law, but remains estranged from his elder son, Troy Perry III[39]

Perry lives in Los Angeles with his husband, Phillip Ray DeBlieck,[40] whom he married under Canadian law at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. They sued the State of California upon their return home after their Toronto wedding for recognition of their marriage and won.[1] The state appealed.[41] and the ruling was overturned by the State Supreme Court after five years in their favor.

Tributes[edit]

In 2011, actor/playwright Jade Esteban Estrada portrayed Perry in the solo musical comedy "ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 5" which includes the song "I Will Follow You" sung by the character of Perry with music and lyrics by Estrada.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bullough, Vern L., ed. Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2002. ISBN 1-56023-192-0
  • Clendinen, Dudley, and Adam Nagourney. Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. ISBN 9780684867434
  • Downs, Jim. Stand By Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation. New York: Basic Books, 2016. ISBN 9780465032709
  • Dunak, Karen M. As Long As We Both Shall Love: The White Wedding in Postwar America. New York University Press, 2013. ISBN 9780814737811
  • Federman, Lillian, and Stuart Timmons. Gay LA: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. ISBN 9780520260610
  • Hirshman, Linda. Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. Pymble, N.S.W. : HarperCollins Australia, 2013. ISBN 9780061965517
  • Tobin, Kay, and Randy Wicker. The Gay Crusaders. New York: Arno, 1975. ISBN 0-405-07374-7

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Rev. Dr. Troy Perry". THE LAVENDER EFFECT®. 2014-07-26. Retrieved 2017-05-20. 
  2. ^ a b Tobin, p. 14.
  3. ^ "Troy Deroy Perry." Religious Leaders of America, 2nd ed. Gale Group, 1999.
  4. ^ a b "Troy D. Perry, Rev." Gay & Lesbian Biography. St. James Press, 1997.
  5. ^ "Rev. Troy D. Perry Biography".  Troy Perry's website. Retrieved on December 15, 2007.
  6. ^ Tobin, p. 16
  7. ^ Bullough, p. 394.
  8. ^ Tobin, p. 16-17.
  9. ^ Tobin, p. 19-20
  10. ^ Burkitt, James (2013). "Early MCC Marriage Equality History". Metropolitan Community Churches. 
  11. ^ "Global Presence | Metropolitan Community Churches". mccchurch.org. Retrieved 2017-06-26. 
  12. ^ Perry, Troy (1990). Don't Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Reverend Troy Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-04691-0. 
  13. ^ Bullough, p. 396
  14. ^ "1979 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights". http://houstonlgbthistory.org.  External link in |website= (help)
  15. ^ [1] Archived March 3, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Gay Cleric Rev. Troy Perry To Receive Doctorate From Episcopal".  Worldwide Faith News Archives (Press release). Retrieved on January 3, 2008.
  17. ^ "Rev Troy Perry on Religious Archives Network". http://lgbtran.org.  External link in |website= (help)
  18. ^ "President Clinton remarks at first White House Conference on HIV and AIDS". http://presidency.ucsb.edu. December 6, 1995.  External link in |website= (help)
  19. ^ "First White House Conference on Hate Crimes". http://cnn.com. November 9, 1997.  External link in |website= (help)
  20. ^ "Rev Troy Perry Profile on Religious Archives Network". http://lgbtran.org.  External link in |website= (help)
  21. ^ [2] Archived November 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ "New Gay Christians." The Toronto Sun; July 24, 2005: p. 47
  23. ^ "Rev. Troy Perry is First American to Receive Cuba's CENESEX Award". http://mccchurch.org. May 22, 2017.  External link in |website= (help)
  24. ^ "The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay". Good Reads. 
  25. ^ "Don't Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Rev Troy Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches". Publishers Weekly. October 1990. 
  26. ^ "Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage". Good Reads. 
  27. ^ "10 Spiritual Truths for Successful Living for Gays and Lesbians". Amazon Books Listing. 
  28. ^ "Television Archives". http://nytimes.com. Sep 7, 1970.  External link in |website= (help)
  29. ^ "Mike Douglas Show, Season 12, Episode 220". http://tv.com. July 9, 1973.  External link in |website= (help)
  30. ^ Capp, Steve. "Phil Donohue Show, 1967-1996". Alternate Channels: GLBT Images in Broadcasting. 
  31. ^ "The Tomorrow Show, Season 1, Episode 133". http://tv.com. June 4, 1974.  External link in |website= (help)
  32. ^ "Playboy Magazine, Sept 1973, Vol. 2, No. 9". Vintage Playboy Magazines. 
  33. ^ "Sign of Protest". IMDb. 
  34. ^ "God, Gays and the Gospel". Cinema Guild. 
  35. ^ "Upstairs Inferno on IMDb". IMDb. 
  36. ^ "StoryCorps Rev. Troy Perry". StoryCorp. 
  37. ^ Dart, John (June 17, 2008). "The Pastor Behind the Gay Marriage Ruling: Troy Perry". Christian Century. 
  38. ^ Bullough, p. 397—398
  39. ^ Bullough, p. 398.
  40. ^ "Founder of Gay Church to Marry His Partner". http://latimes.com.  External link in |website= (help)
  41. ^ Allred, Gloria (October 5, 2006), "Gay and Lesbian Couples In California Same-Sex Marriage Case Respond To Court Ruling", MCC News Release, retrieved 2007-12-31 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Founder
Moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
1968—2005
Succeeded by
Rev Nancy Wilson