For many religious members of the LGBTQ+ community, accepting oneself can mean rejecting the Church. However, for Reverend Troy D. Perry, it simply meant there was an space to fill within the LGBTQ+ community with the word of God. And thus, the Metropolitan Community Church was born.
After being kicked out of his church in 1968 for coming out to his wife and clergy, Perry was at a loss.
“I felt like I had failed the Lord,” Perry said.
Yet, later that year he created a revolution within a revolution a year before Stonewall when he advertised in the Advocate magazine for a gathering in his home as a church service for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. This small gathering of 12 people quickly grew into multiple churches around the country and eventually the world.
“God spoke to me,” Perry said. “I was called to preach, and that is what I did.”
It was no easy path though. Despite fire bombings of its sanctuaries and murders of its clergy, Perry led a movement and expansion of the denomination to become one of the world’s largest LGBT organizations with hundreds of churches in countries around the world. Only two months after founding the church, he began conducting what is considered to be the first same-sex wedding ceremony in the United States.
50 years later, the Los Angeles LGBTQ community will honor Perry on the 50th anniversary of his founding the first welcoming spiritual home for LGBTQ people, with a Gala event to be held on October 6 at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles.
Perry is a renowned international LGBTQ human rights activist and a pioneer in social equality, legal protection and spiritual justice for LGBTQ people. From those early days in the struggle for LGBTQ acceptance, he led the first historic protests and marches throughout Los Angeles and around the U.S. He has continued to lead the way in building a worldwide movement and played a critical role in paving the way for marriage equality. He conceived the world’s first Gay Pride Parade and co-founded the Christopher Street West organization to launch the first LA PRIDE event in 1970. He most recently led a rousing call to action at the LA PRIDE 2017 Resist March.
“We refuse to go back to 1970,” Perry said. “We will resist all hate. As we chanted in 1970, ‘an army of lovers can never be defeated.’”
For more information regarding the celebration and gala event, contact John Boswell at 310.766.5868 or [email protected].
Photo: Courtesy Rev. Troy Perry. Rev. Troy Perry founded Metropolitan Community Church in his Huntington Park home 50 year ago.