Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Church, which teaches tolerance, love and understanding as it relates to the role of LGBT individuals as Christians, spoke Thursday on the topic of “One Queer Christian Social Activist: A Minority Voice Seeking Justice.”The night opened with a speech from Rev. Karla Fleshman, the pastor of a local Metropolitan Community Church called “Imago Dei,” which means “Image of God.” She described her church as one that, “welcomes persons who desire to wed their sexuality and their spirituality and wed their spirituality with social justice.”
Rev. Perry was introduced by Sally Cramer, the president of WCU’s LGBTQA alliance who gave a brief history of the denomination that Rev. Perry started.
Rev. Perry started off biographically on his life as a Christian homosexual. He said that growing up he got used to people showing off photographs regularly to guests, so he wanted to present a series of images of his journey throughout the last century.
In the 1950s, he had his first conversation with his pastor about his feelings. He also married that pastor’s daughter and had two children. Later they divorced. In the 1960s he told his mother that he was gay. Her reaction was to blame herself, which he did not agree with.
After some time at boot camp and serving in the Marines, it was his visit to Holland that really “radicalized” him.
After his wife and he divorced, he got into a serious relationship with a man. That relationship ended and Rev. Perry described the depth of his depression. It was through this in which he recovered his faith. He said, “I thought God couldn’t love me.” He asked for forgiveness after his relationship ended, but “not for myself being a homosexual, but for making my relationship an ideal in my life.”
After that, he felt called to start a church for homosexual individuals.
He gave stories of police encounters in the bar where he would frequent and the strength of those individuals when under discrimination. However, a fire at the bar on Oct. 6, 1968, killed 32 of his friends. He said the funeral really gave the people in that community courage.
Since then, he has visited with President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s and then President Bill Clinton in the 1990s to discuss hate crimes.
He described the 1980s as a time of trials due to the AIDS breakout. Much persecution came not only upon homosexuals, but any persons with AIDS.
Now he claims that churches everywhere are discussing the issue of homosexuality since the creation of his Metropolitan Community Churches. All faiths now have to deal with this issue.
After he spoke, he held a question and answer session with a professor from WCU and Rev. Karla Fleshman.
He discussed the removal of homosexuality from the DSM as a major breakthrough for his cause. It brought it from a science issue to more of a religious issue.
He pointed out “if you’re a Christian, you don’t want people to be murdered or their church burnt down” in reference to other denomination’s support, or lack there of, of his ministry.
He answered questions, including one comment from a former bi-sexual girl who testified, “I got delivered from it because I admitted it to God. Jesus came to forgive sins. God showed that he loved me and you, but he hates the sin. I can’t change my skin color, but I can change my partner.”
Rev. Perry’s response was that four little verses are not enough to convince him.
When asked on his view of the holiness of the Bible-whether it is from God-he said he did not believe it to be. He said all the different translations is reason to think that the Bible is not correct. He views the words of Jesus to be the Word of God, but not the New Testament books of Paul.