Rev Troy Perry
Founder of Metropolitan Community Churches and Gay Rights Activist
Troy Perry has devoted his life to helping others discover the loving and caring God to whom he has committed his life.
As founder of the predominantly-gay Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), he watched the membership grow from 12 to over 43,000 during the 38 years he served as the Moderator of the MCC movement and guided MCC’s growth into one of the world’s largest LGBT organizations.
MCC was the first church to recognize the need to minister to the needs of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons throughout the world. It is through that ministry that Perry has become a leading activist for gay and lesbian rights.
Rev. Perry began his vocation preaching in Florida at the age of 13 and was licensed as a Baptist minister at 15. During this period, he became aware of his sexual orientation and felt — as many gays did in rural America — that he must certainly be the only one in the world who felt that way.
In 1959 he married his pastor’s daughter, and a year later he, his wife and newborn son moved to Illinois where Rev. Perry planned to attend Midwest Bible College. While studying at Midwest, Rev. Perry worked for a plastics company that transferred him to Southern California to open a new plant. Rev. Perry, with his wife and two sons, made the move in 1962.
Once in California Rev. Perry was assigned to pastor the Church of God of Prophecy in Santa Ana. It was there that Rev. Perry experienced an “uneasy” coming out and came to terms with his gayness. He and his wife separated after five years of marriage and later were divorced.
When Rev. Perry returned to Los Angeles after a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he was set on the historical course his life was to take.
“The Lord was dealing with me. My previous church taught that you couldn’t be both Christian and gay. Then one day it was as though God said, ‘Don’t tell me what I can do. I love you, Troy, and I don’t have any stepsons or stepdaughters. Reread my Word.’ And reread God’s word I did.”
It was following a close friend’s arrest that Rev. Perry realized that “God cares,” precipitating the birth of MCC in Los Angeles, and ultimately leading to the birth of the Metropolitan Community Churches movement, which has grown to 250 congregations in 26 countries.
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.
Rev. Perry was the first openly gay person to serve on the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. In 1978 he was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Chapter with its Humanitarian Award. He has been honored by the Gay Press Association and has been honored by numerous Civic, Religious, and other organizations from all over the world.
He holds honorary doctorates from Episcopal Divinity School (Boston), Samaritan College (Los Angeles), and Sierra University (Santa Monica, California), and The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (San Francisco).
Rev. Perry was invited to the White House in 1977 by the administration of President Jimmy Carter to discuss gay and lesbian civil rights, and was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton in the 1990’s as an official delegate to White House Conference on Hate Crimes and the White House Conference on AIDS. President Barack Obama became the third America President to invite him to the White House in 2009 for the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Rev. Perry has been an international leader in the quest for marriage equality for gays and lesbians. In 1968, he performed the first public same-sex wedding in the U.S., and in 1970 he filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking legal recognition for same-gender marriages.
In 2003, he and his spouse, Philip Ray De Blieck, were married under Canadian law. In 2004, they filed suit against the State of California seeking the state’s recognition of their Canadian marriage. On June 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled in their favor.
In addition to his work as a gay religious leader and human rights activist, Rev. Perry has authored an autobiography, “The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay,” and a sequel titled “Don’t Be Afraid Anymore,” published by St. Martin’s Press. He is a contributing editor for the book “Is Gay Good?” and the subject of another book, “Our God Too.” His most recent book is “10 Spiritual Truths For Gays and Lesbians* (*and everyone else!).”
Rev. Perry has represented MCC and the LGBT rights movement on the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, and CNBC. Virtually every major magazine and newspaper in the world has covered the story of the founding of MCC.
In 2005, Rev. Perry retired as Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. In his retirement, he maintains an active speaking schedule, lecturing on the history of the gay rights movement, HIV issues, and marriage equality. He also regularly preaches in both MCC congregations and other faith communities.
While Rev. Perry realizes the oppression still facing gays and lesbians, he stands at the vanguard of the movement, telling his flock and the rest of the world, “We’re Not Afraid Anymore.”