Span Dates: 1971-1974
The Robert G. DeSantis papers (.85 linear feet) document his religious career development within the MCC hierarchy. The papers also document his involvement with the prison ministry and his personal correspondence with gay prisoners throughout California. The papers are divided into three series; the prison ministry and prisoner correspondence, correspondence, and Seminary notes.
The prison ministry notes include administrative papers concerning the appointment of DeSantis and his correspondence with the US Board of Prisons Ministry, pamphlets of religious support organizations established at San Quentin, newsletters, papers collected from the 1974 Stonewallis Prison Conference, and personal correspondence between DeSantis and prisoners from various prison facilities throughout California. The prison papers are organized chronologically.
The personal correspondence between DeSantis and inmates from various prisons provides some of the most useful information in this collection. Letters written by Clem Bassett, Herbert Hay, Harry Lieble, and Bill Thiel give personal accounts of the experiences of gay inmates. The most interesting and disturbing papers are to be found in the letters written by Gary Keller and Ron Rose who maintained a love affair in the psychiatric facility of Atascadero. Their letters to DeSantis portray the violent discrimination that patients may have suffered at the hands of hospital employees after they openly acknowledged their homosexuality.
The professional portfolio of DeSantis, as well as his notes on the Samaritan Bible Seminary are useful for portraying the structure, ideology and hierarchy of the MCC. The seminary notes describe the theology and ideology taught at the MCC seminary. The notes are arranged by class subject in chronological order.
Robert G. DeSantis was a member of the Metropolitan Community Church (now the United Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches UFMCC) of Los Angeles in its beginning years. The MCC was the first lesbian and gay church, founded in 1968 by the Reverend Troy Perry.
In 1971 DeSantis began classes at the Samaritan Bible Seminary of the MCC (he was officially accepted into the program in 1972). After graduating from the seminary, he became an exhorter for the MCC. In 1974 he was appointed the Acting Chaplain of the San Quentin Prison Ministry by the US Board of Prison Ministry. The term "Acting Chaplain" was used by the MCC to describe his role as an unliscensed minister. The extent of time he served as the prison minister as well as his future involvement with the MCC is unknown.
During the early 1970's DeSantis kept limited correspondence with several national evangelistic organizations such as the ministry of the Reverend Billy Graham. He also kept correspondence with California Assemblyman Willie Brown regarding the 'consenting adults' bills AB 437 and AB 470.
A finding aid is available at the Online Archives of California. Search for the collection by name and follow links to see the full finding aid.
The collection is on loan to the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center of the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library from the GLBT Historical Society of Northern California (San Francisco, CA).
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches,
Gay Clergy -- United States,
Gay liberation movement -- Religious aspects,
Gays -- Religious Life,
Gays -- United States -- History -- 20th Century -- Sources,
Homosexuality -- History -- 20th century,
Homosexuality -- Religious aspects -- Christianity,
Los Angeles [CA],