Troy Perry has devoted his life to helping others discover the loving and caring God to whom he has committed his life.
As founder of the predominantly-gay Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), he has watched the membership grow from 12 to over 43,000 during the past 38 years and has guided MCC's growth into one of the world's largest LGBT organizations.
MCC was the first church to recognize the need to minister to the needs of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons throughout the world. It is through that ministry that Troy has become a leading activist for gay and lesbian rights.
He began his vocation in Florida at the age of 13 and was licensed as a Baptist minister at 15. During this period, Troy became aware of his sexual orientation and felt -- as many gays did in rural America -- that he must certainly be the only one in the world who felt that way.
In 1959, Troy married his pastor's daughter, Pearl Lous Pinon, and a year later he, his wife and newborn son moved to Illinois where he planned to attend Midwest Bible College. While studying at Midwest, Troy worked for a plastics company which transferred him to Southern California to open a new plant. The young Rev. Troy Perry, with his wife Pearl and two sons, Troy III and Michael, made the move in 1962.
Once in California Troy was assigned to pastor the Church of God of Prophecy in Santa Ana. It was there that he experienced an "uneasy" coming out and came to terms with his gayness. Troy and his wife separated after five years of marriage and later were divorced.
When Troy returned to Los Angeles after a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he was set on the historical course his life was to take.
Rev. Troy Perry created a revolution within a revolution a year before Stonewall when he began to save countless LGBTQ+ lives by building them a welcoming place for their spiritually homeless souls.
His visionary step in the creation of the first Metropolitan Community Church in 1968 would be historic: the first church to recognize the need to minister to the needs of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
Despite fire bombings of its sanctuaries and murders of its clergy, Rev. Troy Perry has led this movement and the expansion of the denomination to become one of the world’s largest LGBT organizations with hundreds of churches in countries around the world.
"The Lord was dealing with me. My previous church taught that you couldn't be both Christian and gay. After a suicide attempt while I was arguing with God that he couldn’t love me God spoke to me in a still small voice in the minds ear, ‘don’t tell me what I can do. I love you, Troy, and I don't have any stepsons or stepdaughters. Reread my Word.’ And reread God's word I did."
It was following a close friend's arrest that Troy realized that "God cares," precipitating the birth of MCC in Los Angeles, and ultimately leading to the birth of the Metropolitan Community Churches movement, which grew to 250 congregations in 26 countries.
On June 28, 1970, Troy, with two friends, Mr. Morris Kight and Rev. Bob Humphries, founded Christopher Street West to hold an annual Pride Parade. It is the oldest gay pride parade in the world. Today there are Pride Parades held all over the world, which are the direct result of this action. Millions of people worldwide attend these events each year.
Troy was the first openly gay person to serve on the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. In 1978 he was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Chapter with its Humanitarian Award.
He holds honorary doctorates from Episcopal Divinity School (Boston), Samaritan College (Los Angeles), and Sierra University (Santa Monica, California). and was honored by the Gay Press Association with its Humanitarian Award. Troy was invited to the White House in 1977 by the administration of President Jimmy Carter to discuss gay and lesbian civil rights, and was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton as an official delegate to White House Conference on Hate Crimes and the White House Conference on AIDS. Perry and his husband, Philip Ray De Blieck was invited to the White House for the 40th anniversary of stonewall by President Barack Obama.
Troy has been an international leader in the quest for marriage equality for gays and lesbians. In December 1968 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.
In 2003, Troy and his spouse, Phillip Ray De Blieck, were married under Canadian law. In 2004, they filed suit against the State of California seeking the state's recognition of their Canadian marriage. The California Supreme Court ruled in their favor.
In addition to his work as a gay religious leader and human rights activist, Troy has authored an autobiography, "The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay," and a sequel titled "Don't Be Afraid Anymore," published by St. Martin's Press. He is a contributing editor for the book "Is Gay Good?" and the subject of another book, "Our God Too." His most recent book is "10 Spiritual Truths For Gays and Lesbians* (*and everyone else!)."
Troy has represented MCC and the LGBT rights movement on the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News, and CNBC. Virtually every major magazine and newspaper in the world has covered the story of the founding of MCC.
In 2005, Troy retired as Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches. While he realizes the oppression still facing gays and lesbians, he stands at the vanguard of the movement, telling his flock and the rest of the world, "We're Not Afraid Anymore."On October 6, 2018, Troy celebrated the 50th anniversary of MCC at Founders Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles, California. The denomination celebrated the same event in 2019, in Orlando, Florida.
October 6, 2019, on the 51 anniversary of his founding the Metropolitan Community Churches, The Smithsonian Institute, asked for and received a collection to be house in the National Museum of American History from him, celebrating his work as both a religious and Human rights leader.