Troy Deroy Perry Jr (born July 27, 1940) is the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, a Protestant denomination with a special affirming ministry with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, in Los Angeles on October 6, 1968.
The Early Years
Troy Perry had a tumultuous life but as early as 15 yrs of age, he seemed to have found his calling as a preacher. Eldest of 5 siblings, he lost his father (a bootlegger) while attempting to escape the police, when he was just eleven.
After his mother remarried and moved the family to Daytona Beach, Perry was abused by his stepfather and ran away from home, not returning until after she divorced him.
His fanaticism increasing, Perry dropped out of high school and became a licensed Baptist preacher by the age of 15 years. After Perry expressed his attraction towards males, his pastor suggested he marry a woman to resolve these feelings. He married this preacher’s daughter, Pearl Pinion, in 1959. They had two sons but Perry continued to remain a closeted gay.
Divorce And Beyond
In 1968, after a suicide attempt following a failed love affair, and witnessing a close friend being arrested by the police a The Patch Bar, a Los Angeles gay bar, Perry felt called to return to his faith and to offer a place for gay people to worship God freely. Perry put an advertisement in The Advocate announcing a worship service designed for gays in Los Angeles. Twelve people turned up on October 6, 1968 for the first service, and “Nine were my friends who came to console me and to laugh, and three came as a result of the ad.” After six weeks of services in his living room, the congregation shifted to a women’s club, an auditorium, a church, and finally to a theatre that could hold 600 within several months. In 1971, their own building was dedicated with over a thousand members in attendance.
Metropolitan Community Church
MCC today, has more than 200 congregations (affiliated, emerging and oasis churches) in 33 countries. The 2007 documentary film titled Call Me Troy is the story of his life and legacy, including the founding of MCC and his struggles as a civil rights leader in the gay community.
Perry is credited with starting the world’s first ever Pride Parade. On June 28, 1970, Rev. Perry, with his 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.
In addition to his work as a gay religious leader and human rights activist, Perry has written an autobiography, The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay, first published in 1972 by Nash Publishing. He has written a sequel to this book, titled Don’t Be Afraid Anymore, published in 1990 by St. Martin’s Press and Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage also published by St. Martin’s in 1992. He is a contributing editor for the book Is Gay Good? and the subject of another book, Our God Too. In 2003, he completed 10 Spiritual Truths For Gays and Lesbians.
The Troy Perry Awards
The Troy Perry New Vision Awards honours fearless LGBTQ young people who are making an impact through spiritual activism.
“I believe we can change the world…
So, for me, my legacy, I hope, will be inside and outside of my community…
He was faithful and he was fearless.”
Troy Perry, 2007
The Troy Perry Awards honor fearless LGBTQ young people who are making an impact through compassionate activism.
The Troy Perry Legacy Project is a creative educational initiative for K-12 and college students to learn about the life and times of Rev. Troy Perry. The curriculum materials align with social studies standards and meet the mandates of inclusive education initiatives, including California Senate Bill 48, also known as the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, and Illinois Senate Bill 3249, which require public school history courses to be non-discriminatory and to integrate factual information about social movements, current events, and history of LGBTQ people into social science instruction. This year the Troy Perry Awards will become a permanent part of the OUR PRIDE Video Fest, a global program for youth and college students. The Troy Perry Awards and The Troy Perry Legacy Project are programs of Rainbow Advocacy, the Global SchoolNet Foundation and the Charter for Compassion.
This Year’s Winners
Wei Tingting is the founder and director of the Guangzhou Gender and Sexuality Education Center. She is one of the five feminists arrested and detained for 37 days by the Chinese authorities in March 2015, which received worldwide media attention. She was nominated for the Asia LGBT Milestone Awards by ALMA and was listed as one of the “10 Most Inspiring Feminists of 2015” by MS magazine. Tinting studied sociology and anthropology in college, then became involved with the feminist and LGBTQ movement in 2010. She has worked full time for several LGBTQ organisations, such as the Chinese LaLa Alliance, LES+ Magazine, LGBT Rights Advocacy China, and Beijing Gender Health Education Institute. She also co-founded several LBT and feminist groups.She has produced and/or directed multiple films. Her new film Bi China is the first bisexual documentary in China.
Anwesh Sahoo is a passionate Indian LGBTQ activist, artist, blogger, writer, model, actor, and TEDx speaker. His “Fitting Out” media campaign has gained widespread acclaim. He has been an outspoken supporter of the legalisation of homosexuality in India. It addresses the atrocities being committed against LGBTQ people in India. Anwesh is a highly recognised face and a respected voice not just in LGBTQ circles in India but world over. He is an accomplished TEDx speaker, ever willing to speak out, stand up for, and defend the LGBTQ community.
Crowned Mr. Gay World India 2016, becoming the youngest winner of thecrown at the age of 20. He is currently a Master’s in Design student at NIFT, New Delhi.
Jalen Bell-Syftestad has dedicated her life to the gender equality movement, fight for LGBTQ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. She also has engaged in studies and research on biracial youth Jalen attended the Ramon C. Cortinez School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles. As a sophomore, she founded the school’s first GSA club (also one of the first in California). She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder. There she served as a trumpet player and squad leader in the Golden Buffaloes Marching Band. She currently attends Pasadena City College, where she majors in psychology. Jalen grew up around MCC with her mother, Jane Syftestad, a teacher and music director of Founders MCC Los Angeles.
FSoG is proud to be associated with Our Pride Foundation, through which our representative Dr. Tanu Pandey received Awesh’s award on his behalf.
Written by: Delshad Master