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Troy D. Perry papers

 Collection
Identifier: Coll2021-002

Scope and Contents

The collection contains personal materials relating to the life of Reverend Troy Perry, including personal records, letters, manuscripts and drafts of Perry's books; photographs of Perry and his friends and family; professional materials related to his work as a pastor and the founder and moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church, including books, documents, correspondence, legal and business records, photographs and videos from the Metropolitan Community Church, as well as religious vestments and artefacts; and materials regarding his work as an LGBTQ and human rights activist, such as records, photographs, ephemera, and realia from many of the events and activities Perry participated in.

Dates

  • 1906-2015

Language of Materials

English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical Note

Reverend Troy Deroy Perry is an American religious leader, gay rights and human rights activist, and founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), the first church specifically aimed at ministering to the LGBTQ community.

Reverend Perry was born July 27, 1940, in Tallahassee, Florida, to Troy and Edith Perry. The eldest of five brothers, Perry was drawn to the church at an early age, becoming a licensed Baptist minister at the age of 15, later moving to Tennessee and joining the Church of God. At the same time, Perry was discovering his sexuality and attraction to men. His pastor recommended marriage to counter his homosexual leanings, and in 1959, Perry married Pearl Pinion, his pastor's daughter. A year later, the couple moved to Illinois so that Perry could attend seminary. Perry spent two years at Midwest Bible College and one year at Moody Bible Institute, while also serving as a pastor and working in a plastics company. In 1962, the company transferred Perry to Southern California where he moved with his wife and their two sons, Troy III and Michael.

In California, Perry continued both to preach and to pursue relationships with men. His wife's discovery of these relationships led to their divorce in 1964, his estrangement from his wife and children, and being defrocked as a pastor. In 1965, Perry was drafted into the US Army, serving in Germany for two years, after which he returned to Los Angeles.

In 1968, after a failed relationship, a suicide attempt, and the police raid at the Patch Bar and subsequent protest, Perry rediscovered his faith and his vocation. He decided to hold a service in his home and placed an advertisement in The Advocate announcing a worship service designed for gays and lesbians in Los Angeles. On October 6, 1968, Perry hosted 12 people for the first service of what would become the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). After several weeks of services in his living room and a growing number of attendees, the congregation shifted to a women's 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. Since that time, the MCC has grown into the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), one of the world's largest LGBTQ organizations, with over 300 congregations around the world.

Perry's mother Edith became the first heterosexual member of the Metropolitan Community Church and supported her son until she died in 1993. Perry retired from pastoral duties in 1973, when he became the first moderator of MCC, an elected position to serve as spokesperson, CEO, and primary visionary for the member congregations. He led the UFMCC for 32 years, finally retiring as moderator in 2005.

Perry has been a leader in many movements surrounding LGBTQ rights and equality since he restarted his career as a pastor, particularly the quest for marriage equality for gays and lesbians. In 1969, 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. Perry continued to perform weddings for same gender couples, most notably during the 1993 and 2000 marches on Washington, where he performed mass ceremonies for several thousand couples.

In 1985, Perry met his partner Phillip Ray De Blieck. The two were married in Canada in 2003 after Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage. Upon their return to California, they sued the State of California for recognition of the marriage and won. The State appealed and the Court of Appeals invalidated his marriage. Perry continued to fight and their marriage was finally declared legal when the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

Along with Morris Kight and Reverend Bob Humphries, Perry founded Christopher Street West in 1970 to hold an annual Pride Parade. It is the oldest gay pride parade in the world. In 1973, he was the first gay man to serve on the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. In 1977-1978, he campaigned against and was instrumental in defeating the Briggs Initiative, a law written to discriminate against gay and lesbian teachers in California public schools.

Perry has participated in conferences at the White House on three occasions. In 1977, he visited the Carter White House to promote gay and lesbian rights. In 1995, he was invited by the Clinton White House to participate in the first White House Conference on HIV and AIDS; and in 1997 he was invited by President Clinton as a participant in the White House Conference on Hate Crimes. Perry was also an organizer and featured speaker at all of the Marches on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights in 1979, 1987, 1993, 2000, and 2009.

Perry has written several books, including The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay, Don't Be Afraid Anymore, and 10 Spiritual Truths for Gays and Lesbians (and everyone else!). He is also the subject of the documentary Call Me Troy.

Reverend Perry has been honored by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Gay Press Association, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and a number of religious organizations and churches. He holds honorary doctorates from Episcopal Divinity School (Boston), Samaritan College (Los Angeles), and Sierra University (Santa Monica, California). In 2017, Perry became the first American honored with the Cuban National Center for Sex Education's CENESEX award for his long history of working for human rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community worldwide. He received honors from President Bill Clinton in 1997 and President Barack Obama in 2009, and in June 2019, Rev. Perry was named to the Stonewall 50 Wall of Honor.

References: The LGBTQ History Project https://www.lgbtqhp.org/rev-troy-perry Rev. Troy D. Perry Biography - https://revtroyperry.org/troyperrybio.htm Rev. Troy Perry reflects on 50 years of Metropolitan Community Church https://www.losangelesblade.com/2018/09/19/rev-troy-perry-reflects-on-50-years-of-metropolitan-community-church/ The Lavender Effect - https://thelavendereffect.org/projects/ohp/troy-perry/ LGBTQ Religious Archives Network. https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/troy-perry

Extent

30 Linear Feet (32 boxes.)

Abstract

Reverend Troy Deroy Perry is an American religious leader, gay rights and human rights activist, and founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), the first church specifically aimed at ministering to the LGBTQ community. His collection (1906-2015) includes documents, correspondence, photographs, ephemera, realia, audiovisual materials, and books related to his personal life, his work with the MCC, and his activism.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in five series: Series 1: Papers and Records; Series 2: Photographs and Negatives; Series 3: Audiovisual Materials; Series 4: Realia and Textiles; Series 5: Books.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Reverend Troy D. Perry, June 19, 2017.

Related Materials

Metropolitan Community Church Historical Collection, Coll2009-006, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.

Processing Information

Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the California State Library. Collection processed by Beth McDonald, 2021.

Title
Finding aid to the Troy D. Perry papers, 1906-2015 Coll2021-002
Status
Completed
Author
Beth McDonald
Date
© 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, University of Southern California Repository

Contact:
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles California 90007 United States
(213) 821-2771