Troy Deroy Perry Jr
July 27, 1940
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
|Founding the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
(wife 1959-1964, divorced)
Phillip Ray De Blieck
(husband since 2003)
|Edith Allen Perry
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.
Troy Perry is the eldest of five brothers born to "the biggest bootleggers in Northern Florida",Troy Perry and Edith Allen Perry. As early as he can remember, Perry felt called to preach, labeling himself as a "religious fanatic". 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.
Perry dropped out of high school,and became a licensed Baptist preacher by the age of 15 years. After Perry expressed his attraction towards males, his pastor suggested he marry a woman to resolve these feelings. 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." They had two sons and relocated to Illinois where Perry attended Midwest Bible College and Moody Bible Institute where he studied for two years. 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. 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. 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.
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." [ citation needed ]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.
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 and ordained women as pastors as early as 1972.
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.
Other artifacts and records donated to the Museum include:
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.
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. The Briggs Initiative was defeated in 1978. Perry also planned the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979 with Robin Tyler.
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.
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 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:
On Valentine's Day 2004 he spoke to a crowd of gay newlyweds at the Marriage Equality Rally at the California State Capitol.He retired as Moderator of the MCC in 2005, and Nancy Wilson succeeded him at an installation service on 29 October 2005.
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.
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.
Perry has written an autobiography, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay, first published in 1972 by Nash Publishing. [ citation needed ] In 2003, he completed 10 Spiritual Truths For Gays and Lesbians* (*and everyone else!).He has written a sequel to this book, titled Don't Be Afraid Anymore, published in 1990 by St. Martin's Press and Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage 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.
Perry's television appearances include
Early Appearance in Print Publications include:
His film appearances include:
Audio Appearances include:
Print Articles on Perry include:
Perry's mother became the first heterosexual member of the Metropolitan Community Church and supported her son until she died in 1993.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.
Perry has maintained a home in Los Angeles with Phillip Ray De Blieck, [ citation needed ]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. The state appealed and the ruling was overturned by the State Supreme Court after five years in their favor.
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.
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.
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