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social sciences

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Perry, Troy (b. 1940)  
 
page: 1  2  

Growth and Tragedy

The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) grew rapidly but not without difficulties. Perry's first congregation managed to buy a building, which volunteers renovated. The first service at MCC's Mother Church in Los Angeles was held in March 1971.

In the next few years, other congregations sought affiliations with the Los Angeles congregation. In 1972, twenty-three affiliated churches were organized as the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, with Perry as moderator.

Sponsor Message.

The new denomination not only attracted adherents, however; it also attracted the hatred of . In January 1973 the Mother Church was burned. The persons responsible were never apprehended. In subsequent years, seventeen other MCC sites would fell victim to arsonists.

A particularly devastating fire occurred in June 1973, when the Upstairs Lounge, a New Orleans gay bar that had once been the site of MCC services, was torched. The fire was the deadliest in the city's history. Among the thirty-two people killed were the New Orleans MCC's pastor, assistant pastor, and ten members of the congregation, which numbered only twenty-two at the time.

Most of the churches of New Orleans refused Perry's request to use their buildings for memorial services, but St. George's Episcopal and St. Mark's Methodist Churches made their premises available.

When Perry learned that news photographers had gathered outside St. Mark's, he offered mourners the option of leaving by a back way if they did not wish to be seen. He was gratified when all chose to go out through the front door.

Community Activism

From the very beginning, Perry has been a community activist. Perry's work for glbtq rights has taken many forms. In his early days, he campaigned for an end to police harassment in Los Angeles. He subsequently helped organize two marches on Washington, one in 1979 and another in 1987.

Among the aims of the 1987 march was to call on the Reagan administration to improve its woefully inadequate response to the AIDS crisis.

AIDS has been an important issue to the MCC, which has lost numerous members to the disease. The church has a longstanding AIDS ministry and has been a leader in establishing groups to support people with AIDS.

Holy Unions

Perry favors the legal recognition of same-sex partners. At an event held in conjunction with the 1987 march on Washington he blessed the unions of over two thousand couples. The Rite of Holy Union has been celebrated in the MCC from the earliest days of the church.

Perry himself has been in a committed relationship with Phillip DeBlieck since 1985. After Canada announced that it was no longer restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, Perry and DeBlieck traveled to Toronto, where they were married on July 16, 2003 in a joyful ceremony at the local Metropolitan Community Church. (Perry's previous partner, Greg Cutts, died in 1983 from an adverse reaction between a prescription medication and an over-the-counter remedy.)

Social Justice and Recognition

Perry has been an active and visible worker for social justice, vigorously campaigning against homophobic laws throughout the United States. He has also testified before Congress on the subject of gays in the military.

President Jimmy Carter invited him to the White House to take part in a discussion of the civil rights of glbtq people in 1973. During the Clinton administration he participated in the White House Conference on AIDS (1993) and the White House Conference on Hate Crimes (1997). Perry was also among one hundred national spiritual leaders honored by Clinton at a 1997 White House event.

His Testimony

Perry has written and contributed to a number of books, including the autobiographical works The Lord Is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay (1972) and Don't Be Afraid Anymore (1990). With Thomas L. P. Swicegood he co-authored Profiles in Gay & Lesbian Courage (1991), which presents the lives and work of such leaders as Harry Hay, Harvey Milk, Leonard Matlovich, and Barbara Gittings.

Speaking of the renewal of his faith after his suicide attempt, Perry described the great joy in his heart when he realized that his sexual orientation did not affect God's love for him. He has devoted his life and his considerable energy to sharing this message of hope.

His ideals and vision are reflected in his church's statement: "The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is a Christian Church founded in and reaching beyond the Gay and Lesbian communities. We embody and proclaim Christian salvation and liberation, Christian inclusivity and community, and Christian social action and justice. We serve among those seeking the integration of their spirituality and sexuality."

Linda Rapp

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    Bibliography
   

Allen, Martha Sawyer. "The Love of God." Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (April 6, 2002): 7B.

Arnold, Lee. "Perry, Troy D." Who's Who in Contemporary Gay & Lesbian History from World War II to the Present Day. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds. New York: Routledge, 2001. 325-26.

McMullen, Cary. "Finding Faith through Fire; Man Founded Church for Gays after Being Shunned by Traditional Churches." Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.) (August 23, 1997): D3.

Metropolitan Community Churches. www.ufmcc.com.

Nolan, Bruce. "Service Remembers Upstairs Fire Victims." Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (June 25, 1998): B1.

Perry, Troy D., with Thomas L.P. Swicegood. Don't Be Afraid Anymore. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.

Price, Deb. "Gay Preacher Knows God Called Him." San Francisco Examiner (March 14, 1995): C7.

Sears, James T. Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Perry, Troy  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated August 17, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/perry_t.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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