The first time I saw this trailer, it felt as though a hurricane had ripped through my life. However, it wasn’t a hurricane of destruction, but perhaps a foreshadowing of the great and mighty force that Troy Perry would come to be in my own life.
The amazing thing about the documentary Call Me Troy is that the power and presence Troy Perry has is palpable even from the screen. I had the chance to watch it in my Queering Religions class, and I know that I wasn’t the only person who was deeply touched by this man’s life. A man who knew, even as a young boy, that God had a purpose for him, Troy overcame heartache and persecution to build a ministry based on love, the power of love, of God’s love, of man’s love for each other, of Jesus’ message of love. His ministry has grown to touch 23 countries and 250 member congregations the world over. This man changed the world.
And if he isn’t an American hero, I don’t know who is.
Of course, the best part of this story is that I didn’t just get to admire him from a screen. I have had the personal privilege of meeting Reverend Troy Perry up close and personal, and even getting to touch him.
I know, I know, it’s very exciting! But I can’t get ahead of myself!
Obviously, when my professor (himself a reverend of a MCC, which is the chruch that Reverend Troy Perry started) announced that he had arranged for Reverend Troy Perry to come to CSUN and give a talk, I just about pissed myself in excitement like a little puppy. As though I were about to go on the most exciting date of my life, I circled the date in my planner, wrote his name down and circled it with hearts.
I wish I were exaggerating, but I am just that silly and cheesy.
A few days before the talk, I noticed on my way to class that the Prayer Tent had been set up by the Bookstore Complex again. The Prayer Tent is exactly what it sounds like- a tent erected by a Christian group on campus where people can go to the members and ask for prayer, if they need it. Feeling unusually bold, I decided to stop and ask for prayer.
“Hey,” I started out, walking up to a group of campus Christians. “I have a prayer request. The Reverend Troy Perry is coming to speak on campus, and I was hoping that you could pray that God bless his message.”
They smiled, agreed, and asked who Troy Perry was. After I told them a little bit about him, they all sort of awkwardly paused.
“Do you have anything you need prayer for personally?” one finally asked me.
Soon, the night came that I had been waiting for. I had decided to ask one of my friends to come, who is a gay man and who, I thought, would enjoy the message. Getting the times slightly askew, we showed up a half an hour early. When nobody was inside the classroom, we got confused and started wandering the halls.
Just in time to see them arrive, the Reverend Troy Perry, his spouse, Phillip, and their two friends. Being too nervous and star struck to do much of anything, we tried to look nonchalant as they entered the room.Eventually, of course, we worked up the courage to come into the room and introduce ourselves.
For about an entire fifteen minutes, my friend and I had the opportunity to sit and have a personal talk with a personal hero of mine. In person, Reverend Troy Perry is exactly how he appears in his documentary- warm, open, a Southern gentleman. He is also delightfully somewhat irreverent at times, which always managed to put a smile on my face. (For example, my friend, who is Mexican, and I told him how we were from San Bernardino. “What a coincidence,” he laughed. “My first boyfriend was a Mexican man from San Bernardino!”) Phillip was equally as kind and loving as his husband, and, throughout Troy’s talk, any time I would sneak a peek at Phillip he would always smile and wink back at me. What a charmer, this man.
The talk itself was absolutely perfect. After more people showed up, Reverend Troy told stories from his past and shared wisdom aimed at the people my own age. We have to be organizers, he told us, we have to be activists, we have to stand up for what is right and do it the right way. He gave us tips on how to be activists in our community, both in the way that he had done throughout his life and using new technologies available to us. After all, while he is a peaceful man, he is also a powerful man who knows how to get a message across.
When the talk was over, my professor encouraged me to tell Reverend Troy about the Prayer Tent. Timidly, I walked up to the front of the room and waited to speak to him. When my turn came, I briefly told him what had happened.
” Yes, I do need something personal prayed for. I need you to pray for Troy Perry!'” he said.
“But I need you to know,” I stammered back, “I need you to know that even if they didn’t pray, I did, and that God did bless your message, and we are all different and better for listening to you.”
And then, the Reverend Troy Perry took my hand, kissed it, and called me sweet.
What a charmer, this man.
I’m not sure anymore whether or not I believe in God. But if there was every any person who made me truly see God in them, it was definitely Reverend Troy Perry.
(Call me, Troy!)