REVEREND TROY PERRY
THE METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH
Reverend Troy Perry deserves and is owed credit for establishing inclusive Christianity dedicated to LGBTQ rights. In October 1968, he founded the Metropolitan Community Church. The “MCC,” without a doubt, is the most important LGBTQ church both historically and presently. Its impact was immediate. After six weeks, the church moved out of Reverend Troy Perry’s living room into a theater that housed 600 people, and, by 1971, the MCC bought its own church with room for over 1,000 people. Now, the MCC has 222 member congregations in 37 countries in every continent but Antarctica.
Reverend Troy Perry was an early celebrater of marriages for lesbian and gay couples. The first one he officiated was in 1969. In 1970, he filed a lawsuit seeking legal recognition of gay marriages. That wasn’t the only lawsuit. The last was in 2003 when he married his longtime partner, Phillip, in Canada and returned to Los Angeles. He sued the state of California because they wouldn’t recognize his marriage. He won the case in the Supreme Court. The fruits of civil rights are inseparable from its trunk and roots.
“It is very interesting. The word homosexual did not appear in English scripture until 1950 and that is when the National Council of Churches released their version, their English version of scripture. For the first time ever, they put in the word homosexual. It wasn't in the old King James Bible.
You have to remember that we were having problems in Congress where there was a communist under every bed and they were all homosexual. Around this time, Harry Hay, who we view as the modern—certainly as the founder of the modern GLBTQ rights movement in America. The House Un-American Activities Committee made him testify and the congressman from Wisconsin questioned him and called him a ‘fairy,’ if you can believe that, in front of Congress. Harry had been a member of the Communist Party, the American Communist Party, and later was thrown out of the early homophile groups because of that. His politics were too to the left.
It was an amazing time in history. In the state of Florida, where I'm from, in the 1950s, we also had a state legislator who wanted to find homosexuals, and he published a bulletin that was sent out to everybody. And of course, it was called The Johns Report. The Johns Report had a photograph of, all things, a glory hole scene. The state of Florida went absolutely nuts when it was published with taxpayers' money. The clergy said it was official pornography from the state of Florida. They tried to withdraw the pamphlet and secure all of the copies but they couldn't. The pamphlet, of course, discussed scripture too. So, it was the only in the ‘50s—before that, the word homosexual wasn’t in Christian scripture.
It was awful, horrible and it laid a whole foundation for the religious fundamentalists in America, the Evangelical Community especially, to later start their fight against the GLBTQ—our rights organizations as we started demonstrating. So it was just terrible all at once. And I remember, I had never heard the word homosexual when they quoted the old King James Bible. The Catholic scriptures said that if a man lies with a man as they would with a woman, they're to be stoned to death, their blood to be upon their own heads. You know, it was a death sentence, but there was a lot of ways you could interpret that. Once they put it in English scriptures, it ended up going around the world. It was the basis of everything when it came to scriptures and homosexuality.
Here I go getting ahead of myself; but, after I founded MCC, we published a pamphlet and it said, ‘What did Jesus say about homosexuality?’ and when you opened it, there was nothing inside the pamphlet. On the back cover, it said, ‘That's exactly right. Jesus never said anything bad about homosexuals’ and it was true. So to me, it is very, very interesting.
I felt a call to ministry at a very young age and I started preaching in 1953 as a 13 year older. I went to Southern Baptist Churches and to Pentecostal Churches, two of the most conservative groups on earth. At least in the Catholic Church, I always say, you never had to park your brain, usually, at the door. Catholic priests preach about a lot of things but mainly about the saints and what the Holy Father said; with the Evangelicals, it is a completely different thing.
My Aunt Lizzy Smith, a good Southern woman, who also helped found the snake handling churches in America... I mean as a side to all of this, prophesied that I’d be called into a life of ministry. When I was 13, I went forward for the altar call, like all of us did to pray, and she came over and laid her hands on me and told the whole crowd, ‘Junior, I just received a revelation from the Lord. God is going to use you mightily but not in the church you think.’ I thought she was trying to get me in her church. After she had done that, she then spoke about how the Book of Mark says, 'They shall take up serpents,’ not maybe but shall. I thought, well if I've got to pick up a snake to go to Heaven, I'm going to bust Hell wide open because I am not going to handle snakes.”