The Oct. 6 celebration of Rev. Troy Perry and the 50th anniversary of his founding Metropolitan Community Church was a testament to the loving spirit of this longtime LGBT social justice warrior and religious legend. Fellow warriors spoke, including Rabbi Denise Eger, West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, and Rodney Scott, former mainstay of Christopher Street West, the annual Pride parade founded in 1970 by Perry, Morris Kight and Rev. Bob Humphries.
And special guests appeared, including State Sen. Kevin de Leon and famed attorney Gloria Allred, who filed a lawsuit in 2004 on behalf of Perry, his husband Phillip De Blieck (they were married in Canada on July 16, 2003) and Robin Tyler and Diane Olson that ended up helping win marriage equality at the California Supreme Court.
But LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala’s three-minute speech was monumental. “Rev. Troy—thank you for the forgiveness you and your church and your whole world have brought to law enforcement,” Girmala said. On behalf of the LAPD, who try “to be better each and every day—thank you for your forgiveness of us for our past problems, indiscretions, and things that have changed this world for the better but sometimes for worse.”
Elders’ jaws dropped. In March 1969, Perry led a march of 120 people protesting the seemingly casual vicious beating death of Howard Efland by two LAPD Vice officers at the Dover Hotel.
“I had told my congregation over and over that our church was built on a three-prong gospel: the gospel of Christian salvation, the gospel of Christian community, and the gospel of Christian social action. Absolutely: Christian social action. We are meant to go out and bring deliverance to people. So I told them ‘I want you to come and march with me,’” Perry said at the time.
In his remarks, Perry sailed back in time, remembering how one of the first 12 MCC members would be murdered six months later and how LGBT people must remember their history.
“I’m so glad our assistant chief of police is here tonight. Two years ago, I was invited by the Police Commission to do the Invocation and to speak. And I couldn’t not take the opportunity to say, ‘This is the first time I’ve been to the police commission in 46 years. It was 46 yeas ago when I sued you,’” Perry said. “I don’t want us to ever forget our history. Remember what we’ve done. Look at these young people that we’ve honored tonight. How thankful I am for all of you who have made the sacrifice – those eight clergy who were murdered – members of our church who were murdered. But we never gave up. We were faithful. God bless you all.”