09-18-2005, 12:55 AM #1
Interesting article about the founder of the largest gay church in the USA
Interesting article about the founder of the largest gay church in the USA
For more info, he's got a book out titled, "The Lord is my Shepherd, and He Knows I'm Gay."
Rev. Perry heeds still, small voice
After 37 years, founder of Metropolitan Community Churches steps down next month
Pentecostal churches often seem to prefer tongues of flame to the still, small voice of God.
But it is the still, small voice that set the course for a young Church of God preacher who founded a church that has expanded worldwide in less than four decades.
The Rev. Elder Troy Perry, founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metro-politan Community Churches, will retire in October as moderator of the fellowship. He has held the post for 37 years, and is the only moderator the fellowship has known.
During a telephone interview Tuesday, Rev. Perry recounted his early years and the experiences that molded him into a religious pioneer.
He was born in Florida in 1940 into what was then considered a “mixed” marriage: His father was Southern Baptist and his mother was a Pente-costal.
His parents were what Rev. Perry called “Christmas-and-Easter Christ-ians.” They went to church only sporadically, and organized religion didn’t play a large role in their lives.
But even as a child, Perry was captivated by worship services.
“I just loved the church. I would attend the Southern Baptist services on Sunday mornings, and go to the Pentecostal services on Sunday nights.
I went to every kind of service or gathering the churches had,” he recalled.
When he wasn’t at church, Troy was at home playing church. “It was interesting to me. I learned all the Scriptures. I loved worship,” he said. “My mother said I used to hold weddings, and I would hold funerals for every dead animal in the neighborhood.”
But then his father died, and his mother remarried, taking as her husband a man who was cruel and abusive, and who absolutely forbid the family to go to church.
So at 13, Troy ran away from home, taking refuge with one of his paternal uncles in Adele, Ga. That’s where he first started preaching in earnest. He preached in the streets and at a Pentecostal church.
When his mother divorced, Perry moved back to Florida, and by 15, he had been licensed as a preacher by the Southern Baptist church. He also preached regularly during assembly to the students at his junior high school.
By the time he reached high school, his family had moved to Pritchard, Ala., Troy was attending — and even preaching at — a Pentecostal church there.
He was also beginning to question the strange attraction he was feeling toward other men.
“I had read one psychology book, and it said homosexuals were sick and sinful men who just wanted to wear their mother’s dress and go to bed with little boys,” Rev. Perry said. “I just closed the book and said, that’s not me.”
But he couldn’t get that word “homosexual” out of his head. He had the occasional same-sex encounter, but there was no one he could talk to about his feelings.
“Back then, they didn’t believe in homosexuals. They just believed you were a heterosexual gone bad,” he added. “I finally went to the Pentecostal preacher and tried to talk to him about my feelings.”
The preacher’s advice: Marry a good woman.
So at age 18, Perry married the preacher’s daughter. He had dropped out of high school but got his GED and was ordained in the Pentecostal Church of God. He and his wife moved to Joliet, Ill., where he attended a Bible college.
That lasted only until someone told the area bishop that Rev. Perry was gay. He was promptly excommunicated.
Even though her parents urged her to leave him, Rev. Perry’s wife stood by him. The young couple moved back to Florida, and the first of their two sons was born.
Soon, though, the couple moved back to Illinois where Rev. Perry intended to enroll once again in the Bible college. But the administrators there knew he had been excommunicated, and they knew why. They told him he didn’t deserve to be educated there.
So the young preacher went to work for a plastics firm that eventually transferred him to California. There, Rev. Perry decided to re-enter the ministry, this time in the Pentecostal Church of God of Prophecy.
This was a different branch of the Pentecostal faith, he explained. The two branches had quarreled in the 1920s, and since the split, members of the two branches had refused to talk to each other.
When he got to California, Rev. Perry sent a letter telling the state’s bishop he was there ready to preach.
The bishop arranged a meeting for him with the district overseer, and three months later Rev. Perry quit his job and was pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy in Santa Ana.
But even though his new church didn’t know about his past, Rev. Perry couldn’t forget about it.
“I just kept running from my homosexuality,” he said. “My church told me it was a sin and that if I was homosexual, God couldn’t love me.”
But one day, while his wife was on an extended vacation back east, Rev. Perry wandered into a bookstore where he saw his first “physique” magazine. Even though the models in the photos were clothed, he couldn’t deny he reaction to them.
“When I looked at those magazines, I knew in my heart of hearts what I was,” he said.
So he asked the woman behind the counter if she had any books on homosexuality. When she said yes, he asked for a copy of each book she had. After writing her a check for $18.13 – a large sum in those days – he took his treasures home.
Among the books he bought that day was a copy of One, the magazine put out by “the country’s first homophile organization,” also called One. And there was a copy of a book by Daniel Webster Cory called “The Homosexual in America.”
It was the first book he ever ran across that had anything positive to say about homosexuals, Perry said.
“That book told me that what I felt wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t sinful. It told me there were thousands, maybe millions of other people out there like me. It was incredible,” Rev. Perry said.
After reading the books he had bought, Rev. Perry began to come to terms with his sexuality. While his wife was still away, Rev. Perry said, he got up one morning, took his shower and then as he got ready to shave, “I looked at myself in the mirror, and I just said it. ‘Troy Perry, you’re a homosexual.’
“It was like a second born again experience,” he continued. “I just broke down crying, not because I was sad, but because for once, the pressure was off. I had admitted it, and no horns had popped out of my head. I didn’t feel like God didn’t love me, but I knew what the church said.”
He went then to the district overseer.
“I told him, ‘I think I am a homosexual.’ He turned blue in the face, jumped up and asked me if I had molested a child in the Sunday school.’ I told him no, I certainly hadn’t. He told me it was a trick of the devil,” Rev. Perry said.
The district overseer told Rev. Perry to go home and stay quiet and said he would pray for him. But Perry insisted he tell the bishop. A few weeks later, when the bishop was in Santa Ana for a visit, the overseer did tell him, and once again, Perry was excommunicated.
Once again, his wife told Rev. Perry she wanted to stay with him.
But this time he refused. “I told her, ‘You can’t do that. It wouldn’t be fair. And I can’t do it either.’”
So, five years after they were married, his wife moved back to Iowa, and Rev. Perry moved in with his mother and stepfather, who at the time lived in Los Angeles. He found a job at Sears and eventually found the gay community that thrived in Los Angeles. But no matter how hard he searched, he couldn’t find a church that would accept him as a gay man.
Then in 1966, three months shy of his 26th birthday, Rev. Perry was drafted into the Army. He told them up front he was gay but “They did-
n’t believe me or they didn’t care. We were at war, and during war time the military never asks questions about your sexuality. They just want bodies.”
After two years as a military cryptographer, he was back home in Los Angeles. And soon, he met a man named Benny and “fell madly in love for the first time in my life,” Perry said.
But it didn’t last. Six months later, Benny came home one day and announced the relationship was over.
Perry was devastated. He had lost the man he loved, and he had lost that relationship with God that had always been central in his life.
So he took a razor blade, crawled into a bathtub full of warm water, slit his wrists and waited to die. But, he said, God had other plans.
Friends found him there, bound his wounds and rushed him to Los Angeles County Hospital. As he lay crying on a stretcher, Rev. Perry recalled, a black woman in a nurse’s uniform walked up to him, shoving a magazine into his hands.
“She told me, ‘I don’t know why you’ve done this. But I tried it, too. But I went on and made something of myself, and you can, too,’” he said. “She couldn’t talk about God or tell me to pray. But she said, ‘isn’t there someone you can turn to? Can’t you just look up?’ She punched all my buttons.”
Then it hit him, and Rev. Perry began to pray. He prayed for forgiveness, not for being gay, but for turning his back on God, and for forgiveness for having put Benny in God’s place.
“All at once, that joy that Christians always talk about was there,” Rev. Perry said
The doctor stitched him up and after Rev. Perry assured the man he wouldn’t try again to kill himself, let him go home.
He spent the next day laying in bed and worrying about a lot of things, he said: about his job, about finding long-sleeved shirts so nobody would see the scars on his wrists, about where he would go from there.
He still felt that joy that had come to him in the hospital, but he was also still convinced that God couldn’t love a homosexual.
“That’s when I heard it, that still, small voice of God in my ear. He told me, ‘Troy, don’t tell me what I can and can’t do. I love you. You’re my son, and I don’t have any stepsons or stepdaughters.’
“I knew then that I was a Christian, and I was a practicing homosexual. And it finally dawned on me, if God loves me, he loves others like me, too,” Rev. Perry said.
His search for a church where he would be accepted continued, but still he found nowhere to go. Then the day came that he saw a friend arrested in a gay nightclub, just because he slapped another man on the butt and bought a beer for Rev. Perry.
Rev. Perry bailed his friend out of jail, and as they talked afterward, the man told him, “If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that nobody likes a queer.”
Rev. Perry turned once again to prayer. “I told God, I can’t find a church to go to. If you want to see a church with a special outreach to the gay and lesbian community, then tell me so.
“That’s when I heard that still, small voice again. All it said was, ‘Now.’”
So Rev. Perry placed an ad in The Advocate, a gay magazine that was then published monthly. It gave his name, his address and a date.
“I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t brave,” he said. “I had just always believed if you tell people who you are, what you believe and how to find you, then they will come.”
On Oct. 6, 1968, 12 people showed up at the house he shared with his friend Willie Smith. They included nine of his friends and three strangers. There was a straight couple, one person of color and one Jewish person. It was the beginning of what was to become the largest fellowship of gay and lesbian churches in the world.
Within a year and a half, the Metropolitan Community Church “mother church” had purchased its first piece of property, and congregations were forming around the country and asking to be affiliated with Rev. Perry’s church.
After five years as pastor, Rev. Perry again heard God’s voice, this time telling him it was time to fill another need. So he resigned as pastor in October 1973, and accepted the job as moderator of the fellowship. It paid $400 a month.
In the years since then, Perry’s Metropolitan Community Church has been targeted 29 times by arsonists. It also has been targeted over and over again by anti-gay hatemongers. But it has always prevailed.
In the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic began decimating the church’s membership.
“This church lost 5,000 to 6,000 of our members,” he said. “It could have killed the church. But it didn’t. We fed the hungry. We took people to the hospitals. We fought with the government to get them the medicine they needed. When no one else would touch their bodies, we did.”
And, he said, it was the women who pulled the church through.
“If the women hadn’t stood by us, this church would not have survived,” Rev. Perry declared. “Because of the AIDS epidemic, we now have more women clergy than men.”
Next month, 37 years after he began, Rev. Perry will hand over the moderator’s reins to the Rev. Nancy Wilson, former senior pastor at Church of the Trinity Metropolitan Community Church in Sarasota, Fla.
That decision, too, was prompted by God’s will, he said. “I started praying about it six years ago. I told God, we need to get some new blood in here. I want to retire when I am 65.”
This time, Rev. Perry didn’t hear that still, small voice in his ear. But he felt it in his heart. So he announced his decision to the church, and began making plans to prepare the church for the day he would step down.
This week, as he looked back over the first 65 years of his life, Rev. Perry said that founding the Metropolitan Community Church and guiding it through its first 37 years will always be his crowning glory.
But there were other milestones along the way, he said.
He performed the first wedding for a gay couple in his Los Angeles church in January 1969. The next year, he performed a wedding for a lesbian couple, and then joined them in suing the state of California to have their union legally recognized.
“We were laughed out of court,” Rev. Perry said. But it was the beginning of a long fight for legal gay marriage.
In 2003, after same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada, Rev. Perry and his partner, Phillip De Blieck, traveled to Toronto and were married in the Metropolitan Community Church there. They came home, and shortly afterward, got a call from lawyer Gloria Allred.
“She said if we would sue the state, she would take the case pro bono,” Rev. Perry said. “That was close enough to speaking in tongues for me.”
So Rev. Perry and De Blieck joined activist Robin Tyler and her partner, Diane Olson, in suing the state once again to have their marriages recognized.
Their lawsuit was announced on Valentine’s Day, 2004, the same day that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
That case was later merged with other similar cases, and the combined plaintiffs won earlier this year in trial court. Now they are waiting for the appeals court, and ultimately the state supreme court, to hear the case.
“If you had told me 40 years ago that I would see this happen, I would never have believed you,” Rev. Perry said of the GLBT community’s
progress on the marriage issue. “It is just incredible and wonderful to see.”
He has had many other victories as well. That Bible college in Chicago once turned him away because they deemed him unworthy of being educated there. But now, he points out, his sits on the board of trustees of the Chicago Theological Seminary. He has three honorary degrees, including a doctor of divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School at Harvard.
“Sometimes, when people say no, God says yes. That’s what happened in my life,” Rev. Perry laughed.
He met with Pope John Paul II on one of the pontiff’s first visits to the U.S. He also met with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man now known as Pope Benedict XVI. Both men, he said, presented him with medals.
He has been invited to the White House three times: once by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s, and twice in 1997 by President Bill Clinton. And he has helped open up churches of all types to gay and lesbian people, he said.
“Because of the founding of MCC, religion has never again been the same. Every religious group on earth has to talk about this issue now,” Rev. Perry said. “There are hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians who would never feel at home in my church, because it’s so different from the church they grew up in. And I am fighting for their rights, too.”
That’s why he helped found the first Jewish temple in America to welcome gays and lesbians, he said. And it’s why he is so happy to see GLBT organizations growing and organizing in other religions, including Islam and Buddhism, he said.
Rev. Wilson will be installed as moderator on Oct. 29 in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. But even though he is retiring as moderator, Rev. Perry vowed his work would go on.
“There are some things I just can’t quit doing,” he said.
“I will still work for the denomination. I can preach every Sunday of the year. I get invited to speak at MCCs all over the world, and to some heterosexual churches, too. I would like to start having workshops with the mainstream struggles to help them learn about to be welcoming and affirming.”
He continued, “And I won’t back away from the civil rights struggle. I am going to keep doing that until we win all our freedoms. We won’t stop fighting.”
09-18-2005, 01:18 PM #2
I order you to stop this gay propaganda!!
09-18-2005, 01:45 PM #3Originally Posted by MilitiaGuy
09-18-2005, 07:18 PM #4Originally Posted by MilitiaGuy
Your bias is as strong as his.
09-18-2005, 07:36 PM #5
I think Robert23fl is one their altar boys.
09-18-2005, 07:48 PM #6
Thats kinda gay..........
09-19-2005, 03:24 AM #7Originally Posted by Jdawg50
A gay church... kinda gay! No way
Stop kidding us around Jdawg50
My dad once made me go to one of those 'we make you straight kind of churches,' Some sleazy priest got updid the whole sermon on how you can turn your back on your homosexulaity and thru the love of the all powerful Jesus etc you could be a productive hetro and make babies and all that.
My dad pushed me up the front so I could be saved, the guy said that because I did not realise the inherent evil of my lifestyle I would need intense one on one councilling with him in the privacy of his own home...
So my father makes me go, I was 16 at the time, I wasn't there 30 seconds before he was trying all the usual crap.
I think the preacher who comes out and accepts who he is and reconciles that to himself is definately a bigger asset than the usual denial and closeted antics of all these so called respectable men of the cloth.
Last edited by ticboy; 09-19-2005 at 03:30 AM.
12-27-2005, 09:08 PM #8
Thank you!!!!! I second that!!!
Originally Posted by ticboy
12-27-2005, 09:24 PM #9Junior Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
- in the gym
god forbids youre filthy lifestyle and you know it so dont try to push youre sinful gay stories of dedication and perseverence on me pal. that man must repent of his sin and the lord will forgive him but as of right now he and the rest of you fags will be cast into the lake of fire ... its in the bible .. if you have a gay bible its probably not in there though.... get youre gay shit off this forum ...
12-27-2005, 09:27 PM #10
who said i don't like to burn in fire? however, it's not my belief so you're sh!t out of luck on this one.
This is a public forum, and anyone is welcome. I don't see a post at the front door stating that "no gays allowed". However, IMO, why don't you get your breeding ass off of this forum?
Originally Posted by bigron62
12-28-2005, 01:24 AM #11Originally Posted by bigron62
We've been over this before . . .
1) First off, the Christian Bible is NOT the 100% perfect, error-free message from the universe's creator. Geez, nobody even knows who wrote the first several sections of the Bible -- it just kinda appeared out of nowhere . . . not exactly what you'd call an "authorative document."
2) Christians spend hundreds of millions of $$$ beating on the gay thing over and over, doing their damdest to pass laws against the 3% of the population that's gay saying their efforts are all to "protect the family." If they were sincere about protecting the family, they'd outlaw divorce, which you see a lot more of . . . Christians are only beating up on gays and lesbians 'cause they basically hate 'em. Plain and simple.
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