Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), is the first American citizen given Cuba’s CENESEX award. The 10th Cuban Gala Against Homophobia at the Karl Marx Theater in Havana 12 May 2017 was the setting where close to 5,000 people gathered to honor Rev. Perry, including the US, French, and Swiss ambassadors as well as the Minister of Culture of Cuba. Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, and a member of the country’s National Assembly attended the presentation. Perry was presented the award for his long history of working for human rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community worldwide.
Rev. Perry was the first to perform same-sex marriages, co-founded the first LGBTQ Pride Parade in the world, and was invited to the White House by three American presidents. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter’s administration invited Rev. Perry to discuss gay and lesbian civil rights, and in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton appointed Rev. Perry as an official delegate to White House Conference on Hate Crimes and the White House Conference on AIDS. In 2009, President Barack Obama invited Rev. Perry to the White House for the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
He and his husband of 32 years, Mr. Phillip Ray De Blieck, reside in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles, California.
In a statement to MCC’s Global Justice Institute, Rev. Perry said, “To say that I am honored to receive this award from CENESEX would be an understatement. I am thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to visit Cuba and meet members of the Cuban government as well as these wonderful citizens. I am still saddened that the government of my country, the United States of America, has not lifted the embargo against this wonderful country and its people. I call, again, for our government to make that change now!”
The National Center for Sex Education (Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual, or CENESEX) is a government-funded body in Cuba. The center is best known for advocating tolerance of LGBTQ issues on the island. CENESEX stresses acceptance of sexual diversity and has attracted international attention in recent years for its campaigns for the rights of transgender persons, including the recognition of an individual’s gender identity, regardless of birth sex, and provision of state-funded gender reassignment surgery.
There are three Metropolitan Community Churches in Cuba.