Troy Perry

Last updated

Troy Perry
Rev. Troy Perry at MCC 50th Anniversary.jpg
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
Parent Edith Allen Perry
Website revtroyperry.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]

Contents

Early life

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

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

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 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

Perry preaching in 2006 at an MCC church in Minnesota. TroyPerry2006-09-17.JPG
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]

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

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

Early Appearance in Print Publications include:

His film appearances include:

Audio Appearances include:

Print Articles on Perry include:

Personal life

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

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

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metropolitan Community Church</span> International LGBT-affirming Protestant Christian denomination

The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), also known as the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), is an international LGBT-affirming mainline Protestant Christian denomination. There are 222 member congregations in 37 countries, and the fellowship has a specific outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families and communities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gay liberation</span> Social and political movement in the 1960s and 70s.

The gay liberation movement was a social and political movement of the late 1960s through the mid-1980s in the Western world, that urged lesbians and gay men to engage in radical direct action, and to counter societal shame with gay pride. In the feminist spirit of the personal being political, the most basic form of activism was an emphasis on coming out to family, friends, and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nancy Wilson (religious leader)</span> American religious leader

Nancy L. Wilson is an American cleric who served as the moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. Under Wilson's leadership, the denomination became known as "The Human Rights Church" in many parts of the world for its commitment to same-sex marriage, employment and housing non-discrimination laws.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto</span> Church in Ontario, Canada

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Metropolitan Community Church London was the first Metropolitan Community Church congregation in Europe and the first one chartered out of the United States. The congregation was founded in 1972 as the Fellowship of Christ Liberator and at least a year later a majority indicated that they wished to affiliate with the MCC. The then minister, the Revd Tony Cross, resigned and Peter Embrey did not wish to continue to host the congregation. The name was changed and they went on to occupy a location on Sistova Road, in the Balham neighbourhood of South London. MCC London no longer exists as a congregation, but was the source of three other congregations: MCC North London, MCC East London, and MCC South London. MCC churches have a "primary ministry in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, providing a safe-space environment of an accepting congregation where people can find God's salvation, personal support, spiritual growth and guidance toward health and wholeness." The churches have been active in efforts to support marriage for LGBTQ people and specifically reach out to LGBTQ families. They have also supported efforts to educate and combat violence against LGBTQ people.

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References

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  13. Tobin, p. 19-20
  14. Burkitt, James (2013). "Early MCC Marriage Equality History". Metropolitan Community Churches.
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  16. Chibbaro, Lou (September 25, 2019). "MCC Founder to Donate Artifacts to Smithsonian". Washington Blade.
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Preceded by
Founder
Moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
19682005
Succeeded by