Troy Perry : biography
Troy Deroy Perry Jr (born July 27, 1940) founded 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.
Rev. 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. The Briggs Initiative was soundly defeated in 1978, due in large part to grass-roots organizing, which Perry participated in.Bullough, p. 396 Perry also planned the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979 with Robin Tyler.
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, Worldwide Faith News Archives (Press release). Retrieved on January 3, 2008. Samaritan College (Los Angeles), and La 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 was invited to the White House in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter to discuss gay and lesbian civil rights, and by President Bill Clinton in 1995 for the first White House Conference on HIV/AIDS. In 1997 he was invited to the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes. Perry was also a guest of the President that same year for breakfast in the State dining room in the White House to be honored with 90 other clergy for their work in American society.
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 the Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson succeeded him at an installation service on 29 October 2005."New Gay Christians." The Toronto Sun; July 24, 2005: p. 47 He remains active in public speaking and writing.
Founding the Metropolitan Community Church
In 1968, after a suicide attempt following a failed love affair, and witnessing a close friend being arrested by the police at the Black Cat Tavern, 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."Tobin, p. 19-20 After six weeks of services in his living room, the congregation shifted to a womans' 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 same sex unions as early as 1970 and ordained women as pastors as early as 1972.
MCC has over 300 congregations in 18 countries. 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.
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.
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