Troy Perry

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Troy Perry
Born
Troy Deroy Perry Jr

(1940-07-27) July 27, 1940 (age 83)
OccupationClergy
Known forFounding the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
Spouse(s)Pearl Pinion
(wife 1959–1964, divorced)
Phillip Ray De Blieck
(husband since 2003)
Children2 sons
ParentEdith Allen Perry
Websiterevtroyperry.com
mccchurch.org

Troy Deroy Perry Jr (born July 27, 1940) is an American cleric and the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, with a ministry with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, in Los Angeles on October 6, 1968.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Troy Perry is the eldest of five brothers born to "the biggest bootleggers in Northern Florida",[3][4] Troy Perry and Edith Allen Perry. As early as he can remember, Perry felt called to preach, labeling himself as a "religious fanatic".[4] 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. 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.[5]

Perry dropped out of high school,[6] and became a licensed Baptist preacher by the age of 15 years.[7] After Perry expressed his attraction towards males, his pastor suggested he marry a woman to resolve these feelings.[3] 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."[8] They had two sons and relocated to Illinois where Perry attended Midwest Bible College and Moody Bible Institute where he studied for two years.[9] Perry was the preacher at a small Church of God and sometimes had sexual relationships with other men but considered it youthful exploration. When he was 19 years old, church administrators told him one of the men had told them what they had done and he was forced to leave the church.[10] They moved to Southern California, where he pastored a Pentecostal Church of God of Prophecy. After Perry's wife found his copy of The Homosexual in America by Donald Webster Cory, their marriage dissolved. They divorced after five years of marriage.[3] 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.[11]

Founding the Metropolitan Community Church[edit]

In 1968, after a suicide attempt, and witnessing a close friend being arrested at The Patch Bar, Perry felt called to return to his faith and to offer a place for gay people to worship God. 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."[12][13] After six weeks of services in his living room, the congregation shifted to a women's club, an auditorium, a church, and finally a theater. In 1971, their own building was dedicated with over a thousand members in attendance.[citation needed]

Several MCC buildings have been targeted for arson, including the original Church in Los Angeles. Perry's theology has been described[by whom?] 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[14] and ordained women as pastors as early as 1972.[6]

Smithsonian Institution archives[edit]

A collection of items from Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches is held by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. It was presented to the Smithsonian on the 51st anniversary of the founding of the church. It consists of personal items used by Perry in the founding of the Metropolitan Community Churches, historical Items from members and friends concerning Metropolitan Community Churches as well as Items that detail the work of the church and Perry in their struggle for equal and civil rights.[15]

Other artifacts and records donated to the Museum include:

  • The charter of MCC San Francisco describing the rights of membership;
  • General Conference program books from the 25th, 40th, 50th years that provide information about MCC's development;
  • An inclusive language hymnal from 1990;
  • The original pamphlet “Homosexuality: Not a Sickness, Not a Sin” explained MCC's belief about sexuality and spirituality.
  • An original copy of a 1971 issue of Life magazine with a photo of Perry marrying a couple at MCC Los Angeles;
  • An original copy of the Service of Faith and Freedom to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Stonewall at Alice Tully Hall in New York City.[15]
  • A small cross made of stained glass from one of the destroyed windows of the Los Angeles church in an arson fire in 1973.[16]

The bulk of MCC's historical records are preserved at the Center for LGBTQ & Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) in Berkeley, California, and the ONE Institute in Los Angeles.[15]

Activism[edit]

Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches
Perry preaching in 2006 at an MCC church in Minnesota.

Perry held a seat on the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations in 1973.[citation needed] 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.[17] The Briggs Initiative was defeated in 1978.[18] Perry also planned the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979 with Robin Tyler.[19]

On June 28, 1970, Perry, with two friends, Morris Kight and Bob Humphries, founded Christopher Street West to hold an annual Pride Parade. It is the oldest gay pride parade in the world.[20][21]

In 1978, Perry was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Chapter with its Humanitarian Award.[citation needed] He holds honorary doctorates from Episcopal Divinity School in Boston[22] and Samaritan College (Los Angeles) for his work in civil rights, and was lauded by the Gay Press Association with its Humanitarian Award.[citation needed] Perry has been invited to the White House on five occasions:[23]

  • 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;[24]
  • in 1997 invited by President Clinton as a participant in the White House Conference on Hate Crimes;[25]
  • 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.[26]

On Valentine's Day 2004 he spoke to a crowd of gay newlyweds at the Marriage Equality Rally at the California State Capitol.[27] He retired as Moderator of the MCC in 2005, and Nancy Wilson succeeded him at an installation service on 29 October 2005.[28]

In March 2017, Perry became the first American citizen honored with Cuba's CENESEX award. 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.[29]

Perry was named to the Stonewall 50 Wall of Honor made up of 18 community leaders including Wilson Cruz, Mandy Carter, Marsha Botzer and Stuart Milk, the gay nephew of slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk.[30]

Writings and media[edit]

Perry has written an autobiography, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay, first published in 1972 by Nash Publishing.[31] He has written a sequel to this book, titled Don't Be Afraid Anymore,[32] published in 1990 by St. Martin's Press and Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage[33] 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.[citation needed] In 2003, he completed 10 Spiritual Truths For Gays and Lesbians* (*and everyone else!).[34]

Perry's television appearances include

  • Virginia Graham Show, Sept 7, 1970[35]
  • Mike Douglas Show, Week of July 9, 1973[36]
  • Phil Donohue Show[37]
  • Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, June 4, 1974[38]

Early Appearance in Print Publications include:

  • Playboy Magazine, Sept 1973, Vol. 2, No. 9[39]

His film appearances include:

  • Sign of Protest,[40] Documentary, Pat Rocco Director, 1970
  • God, Gays and the Gospel,[41] Documentary, 1984
  • Upstairs Inferno,[42] Documentary, Robert L. Camina Director, 2015

Audio Appearances include:

  • StoryCorps Rev. Troy Perry,[43] Producers Liyna Anwar and Eve Claxton
  • QueerCore Podcast "The Joy of Rev. Troy Perry's Salvation, Podcast Prodcuer, August Bernadicou, May 2020[44]

Print Articles on Perry include:

  • The Pastor Behind the Gay Marriage Ruling,[45] Christian Century, John Dart, June 17, 2008
  • Pride in the Pews,[46] Tablet, Maggie Phillips, June 23, 2021

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.[47] 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.[48]

Perry has maintained a home in Los Angeles with Phillip Ray De Blieck,[49] 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.[3] The state appealed[50] and the ruling was overturned by the State Supreme Court after five years in their favor.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

On October 6, 2018, a tribute to Perry on the 50th anniversary of his founding Metropolitan Community Church was held at the Los Angeles Episcopal Cathedral. Guest speakers and dignitaries included California State Sen. Kevin de Leon and attorney Gloria Allred. Rodney Scott, President Emeritus of Christopher Street West / LAPRIDE, presented the Troy Perry Awards.[51]

On June 11, 2021, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball organization honored Perry, presenting him with the Dodgers Community Hero Lifetime Achievement Award at the eighth annual LGBTQ+ Night at Dodger Stadium.[52]

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
  • Faderman, 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. ^ Project, The LGBTQ History (October 2, 2023). "REVEREND TROY PERRY: Interview". THE LGBTQHP. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  2. ^ Bernadicou, August. "Rev Troy Perry". August Nation. The LGBTQ History Project. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "Rev. Dr. Troy Perry". THE LAVENDER EFFECT®. July 26, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Tobin, p. 14.
  5. ^ "Troy Deroy Perry." Religious Leaders of America, 2nd ed. Gale Group, 1999.
  6. ^ a b "Troy D. Perry, Rev." Gay & Lesbian Biography. St. James Press, 1997.
  7. ^ "Rev. Troy D. Perry Biography". Troy Perry's website. Retrieved on December 15, 2007.
  8. ^ Tobin, p. 16
  9. ^ "Troy Perry | Biography & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Bullough, p. 394.
  11. ^ Tobin, p. 16-17.
  12. ^ Project, The LGBTQ History (October 2, 2023). "REVEREND TROY PERRY: Interview". THE LGBTQHP. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  13. ^ Tobin, p. 19-20
  14. ^ Burkitt, James (2013). "Early MCC Marriage Equality History". Metropolitan Community Churches.
  15. ^ a b c Bowman, Mark (October 6, 2019). "Troy Perry and MCC Artifacts Donated to Smithsonian". LGBTQ Religious Archives Network.
  16. ^ Chibbaro, Lou (September 25, 2019). "MCC Founder to Donate Artifacts to Smithsonian". Washington Blade.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Bullough, p. 396
  19. ^ "1979 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights". houstonlgbthistory.org.
  20. ^ Project, The LGBTQ History (October 2, 2023). "PRIDE WAS A PROTEST: Interview". THE LGBTQHP. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  21. ^ [1] Archived March 3, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Gay Cleric Rev. Troy Perry To Receive Doctorate From Episcopal". Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2008. Worldwide Faith News Archives (Press release). Retrieved on January 3, 2008.
  23. ^ "Rev Troy Perry on Religious Archives Network". lgbtran.org.
  24. ^ "President Clinton remarks at first White House Conference on HIV and AIDS". presidency.ucsb.edu. December 6, 1995.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "First White House Conference on Hate Crimes". cnn.com. November 9, 1997.
  26. ^ "Rev Troy Perry Profile on Religious Archives Network". lgbtran.org.
  27. ^ [2] Archived November 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "New Gay Christians." The Toronto Sun; July 24, 2005: p. 47
  29. ^ "Rev. Troy Perry is First American to Receive Cuba's CENESEX Award". mccchurch.org. May 22, 2017.
  30. ^ Laird, Cynthia (February 27, 2019). "Groups Seek Names for Stonewall 50 Honor Wall". The Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  31. ^ "The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay". Good Reads.
  32. ^ "Don't Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Rev Troy Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches". Publishers Weekly. October 1990.
  33. ^ "Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage". Good Reads.
  34. ^ 10 Spiritual Truths for Successful Living for Gays and Lesbians. Morris. January 2003 – via Amazon Books Listing.
  35. ^ "Television Archives". The New York Times. September 7, 1970.
  36. ^ "Mike Douglas Show, Season 12, Episode 220". tv.com. July 9, 1973. Archived from the original on May 31, 2018. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  37. ^ Capp, Steve. "Phil Donohue Show, 1967-1996". Alternate Channels: GLBT Images in Broadcasting. Archived from the original on April 14, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  38. ^ "The Tomorrow Show, Season 1, Episode 133". tv.com. June 4, 1974.[permanent dead link]
  39. ^ "Playboy Magazine, Sept 1973, Vol. 2, No. 9". Vintage Playboy Magazines.
  40. ^ "Sign of Protest". IMDb.
  41. ^ "God, Gays and the Gospel". Cinema Guild.
  42. ^ "Upstairs Inferno on IMDb". IMDb.
  43. ^ "StoryCorps Rev. Troy Perry". StoryCorp.
  44. ^ Bernadicou, August (May 12, 2020). "QueerCore Podcast: "The Joy of Rev. Troy Perry's Salvation"".
  45. ^ Dart, John (June 17, 2008). "The Pastor Behind the Gay Marriage Ruling: Troy Perry". Christian Century.
  46. ^ Phillips, Maggie (June 23, 2021). "Pride in the Pews". Tribute.
  47. ^ Bullough, p. 397—398
  48. ^ Bullough, p. 398.
  49. ^ "Founder of Gay Church to Marry His Partner". Los Angeles Times. July 5, 2003.
  50. ^ Allred, Gloria (October 5, 2006), "Gay and Lesbian Couples In California Same-Sex Marriage Case Respond To Court Ruling", MCC News Release, retrieved December 31, 2007
  51. ^ Ocamb, Karen (October 9, 2018). "Rev. Troy Perry Celebrates MCC's 50th Anniversary". Los Angeles Blad. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  52. ^ Zeigler, Cyd (June 9, 2021). "LA Dodgers have sold over 8,000 LGBTQ+ Night tickets, pro sports' biggest Pride celebration".

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Founder
Moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
1968–2005
Succeeded by