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About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (March 16, 1984)
something different to me than she intended.
It meant look up to God, and I did exactly that
For the first time in a good while, I decided
to pray, and I said, “God, I ask forgiveness.”
I felt a joy I hadn’t known in years. The next
day after I got home — the tourniquets had
been taken off my arms; the wrists had been
sewn up — I was lying in bed thinking about
what had happened, and all at once that
peace and that feeling of joy hit me again.
And at the same time, I was thinking, “ God,
You can’t do this to me. I’m a practicing
homosexual. The church has told me that
You can’t love me!”
"Troy," came the answer, both gentle and
firm . “Troy, don’t tell me what I can and can
not do. I love you. You’re my son.” I knew right
then and there that I could be gay and Christ
ian, and never again would I apologize for
To know us is
to love us
by Jeri Lee-Hostetler
When Troy Perry first began to suspect that
he was a homosexual, he made an appoint
ment to discuss the issue with his pastor.
After about an hour of talk, the pastor’s eyes
lit up, "Just marry a good woman, Troy.
That'll take care of those problems’’ Troy
followed the pastor’s advice so well that he
ended up marrying the man’s daughter. The
marriage did not last More than anything
else, perhaps it was a detour on the road that
was going to lead Troy Perry to the discovery
of who he was and the worldwide ministry to
which God had called him.
When he was in Portland early in February,
Troy talked to me about that road, about their
founding of Metropolitan Community
Church, and about his own faith journey.
Jeri: So how did you come to start Metropoli
tan Community Church?
Troy: A friend of mine was arrested. After he
got out of jail, he told me, “There’s one thing
I’ve learned from this: nobody likes a gay
person." I tried to tell him that God cares, and
he laughed in my face.
That was when I knelt and said, “All right,
Lord. If you want to see a church started, a
church with ministry to the gay and lesbian
community, you just let me know when.
God’s voice answered, “ Now."
With that I took out an ad in the paper, and
gave my home address. Twelve people
showed up for that first worship service.
Today we have over 200 churches in ten
countries, and we have over 37,000 mem
Jeri: Troy, can we start with your faith
journey? How did you come to see yourself as
a homosexual? And how did that relate to
Troy: First let me say that I started preaching
when I was thirteen years old. I have always
felt that this call to ministry was with me, and
it was something I had to do.
So it was out of that concept of myself as a
Christian and as a person called by God to
minister that I began to try to deal with my
sexuality, while I was still in high school. That
was when I had that conference with my
pastor and began to try so hard to follow his
My wife and I attended school for a while;
we had two sons; and we moved to California.
That was when I finally came to terms with
who I am. After reading some materials on
homosexuals, I recognized that the feelings
in the material I read were my feelings. My
wife and I discussed this, and we decided that
the only answer was for us to separate.
In this process, I was excommunicated
from the church that I was pastoring in Santa
Ana. I moved to Los Angeles. My wife and
family moved east
Later, I was drafted into the Q.S. military. I
spent two years in the army, and I struggled
the whole time with the problem of me. I
knew I was called to preach — but had been
told that God would never love a homosex
ual. It just didn't fit together, but I kept
wrestling with it
After the army, I moved back to L A and,
for the first time in my life, I fell deeply, madly
in love. It only lasted six months, but I had
never experienced that kind of intensity for
When it broke up, that also was intense,
and I reacted the way many gay people do. I
decided nobody loved me. God certainly
couldn’t I didn’t see any signs that anyone
else did. That left nobody.
I climbed into the bathtub, took a razor
Jeri: What was your dream in the beginning?
Rev. T roy Perry
Photo by Roland Bynum
The church in America is a sacred cow.
People don't like to say that, but it's true.
The church controls even the civil laws in
Troy: My vision was to have a church where
people could come and worship God as
totally whole persons, not having to worry
about who they were. I wanted to see a wor
ship experience where no one would ever say,
“Aha! That one over there is a gay person...
or that one is a lesbian.”
I felt early on that the Gospel God had
given me to preach was a three-pronged
Gospel. The first prong was salvation. The
second prong, which was just as important,
was what I call the Gospel of community. We
who were not a people, God has made a
people; part of the purpose of MCC is to be
fam ily to those who don't have any family.
The third prong, just as important as the
other two, was the Gospel of Christian social
action: where we find oppression, we want to
Jeri: If that was your dream in the beginning,
did any of what actually happened surprise
blade, cut both of my writsts, and sat back,
hoping I would bleed to death. My roommate
came home and put an end to the hope.
He heard the water running, and when I
didn’t answer, he broke down the door. After
th a t there were neighbors there, and a trip to
the hospital. Strangely, it was while I was in
the hospital, waiting for them to sew up those
cuts, that things began to come together for
me. Someone walked up to me, shoved a
magazine in my face, and said, “ I don’t know
why you’ve done this. It was real dumb! But I
did it too. Then I went on and made some
thing of myself." It was hardly sympathetic,
but when she added one more thought it did
what I needed: “Why don’t you just look up?”
Coming from my church background, I
heard that as a real code word. It meant
Troy: When MCC started, I had no idea we
would grow as rapidly as we did. I never sus
pected there would be such a need for us. In
my wildest dreams, I didn’t know that Actu
ally, the thing I worried about most was, “God,
what if we hold a service or two and nobody
comes back?" I was scared to death we
would fail. Once I got past th a t I knew we
were going to be all rig h t
Jeri: People call this a gay church. Was that
Just O ut, M arch 16-March 30