The Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd is poet/writer-in-residence at Los Angeles'
Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul. Born in Manhattan in 1923, Boyd worked in the
motion picture industry and became a partner of film pioneer Mary Pickford in
PRD, Inc., a production firm. He also served as president of the Televison
Producers Association of Hollywood. His experience is recounted in Pickford:
The Woman Who Made Hollywood by Eileen Whitfield. In 1951, Boyd left to
enter seminary and was ordained a priest in 1955. He received his B.D. from the
Church Divinity School of the Pacific (and an honorary Doctor of Divinity in
1957) and his S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He has served
parishes and college chaplaincies in Indianapolis, Colorado, Detroit,
Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica.
He "came out" unofficially as a gay man in 1965 with his prayer "This is a
homosexual bar, Jesus" in his best-selling spiritual classic Are You Running
with Me, Jesus? Officially he came out in 1977. A year later he wrote
Take Off the Masks. It was hailed by major reviewers. Library
Journal wrote: "A man reborn who learns to love himself, other people, and
God, step by bloody step. He reveals the flesh and soul of a media-myth we
thought we knew." The Christian Century wrote: "Boyd has gifted the
world with a testament to truth and courage. To read it is to encounter nothing
but a man alive, the stark beauty of one man's transparent humanness. It is a
moving invitation to freedom." Author Paul Monette wrote: "Indispensable for all
of us struggling to fuse the spirit and flesh, the self and the soul. Malcolm
Boyd shares the hard-won illuminations of his past and his coming out with great
tenderness and charm. We are lucky indeed that one of the fathers of the tribe
has been so willing to share his wisdom."
Boyd's deep involvement in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement is chronicled in
Episcopalians and Race: Civil War to Civil Rights by Gardiner H.
Shattuck, Jr. (University Press of Kentucky) and Lift Up Your Voice Like a
Trumpet by Michael Friedland (University of North Carolina Press). Boyd
described this involvement in detail in As I Live and Breathe (Random
House, 1970). Interviews with both Boyd and Thompson appear in Leading the
Parade: Conversations with America's Most Influential Lesbians and Gay Men
by Paul D. Cain (Scarecrow Press). Boyd's interview by Edward Curtin
appeared in the 10th anniversary issue of Gay Sunshine (1980, No,
44/45). His autobiographical sketch is in Contemporary Authors Autobiography
Series volume 11, edited by Mark Zadrozny (Gale Research, Inc.)
In intensely private essays, Boyd recalls a number of men he has known in
Look Back with Joy: A Celebration of Gay Lovers (first published by Gay
Sunshine Press with a subsequent publication by Alyson). The Los Angeles
Times wrote: "By sharing the unextraordinariness of love's long suffusion
into his life, Malcolm Boyd has shared with us his neatest trick of all." San
Francisco supervisor Harry Britt wrote: "Malcolm Boyd, the poet of religion,
turns his talent to the exegesis of what he calls the 'central mystery at the
core of my existence'--his gayness. Boyd describes his life as a folk hero in
the 60s..a 'slow suicide' from which he emerged with courage and humor. In this
book, using memorable images, he captures the moments of transient beauty."
Two books from St. Martin's Press followed, Half Laughing, Half
Crying and Gay Priest: An Inner Journey. Reviewing the latter, the
Philadelphia Inquirer wrote: "There is real integrity here. Seen as a
kind of epistle, it is especially illuminating." The Bay Area Reporter
wrote: "Boyd weaves a brilliant fabric for the gay Christian soul." The San
Francisco Chronicle wrote: "Boyd's voice should be heard clearly in the
nation's bishoprics." Boyd edited (with Nancy L. Wilson) Amazing Grace:
Stories of Lesbian and Gay Faith.
Probably Boyd is best known as author of his prayers in Are You Running
With Me, Jesus? which has a million copies in print. The New York
Times wrote: "A very moving book...their eloquence comes from the personal
struggle they contain...a struggle to believe, to keep going, a spiritual
contest that is agonized, courageous and not always won." National Public
Radio's Frank Deford wrote: "Malcolm Boyd really can write a prayer--he is to
prayer what Shakespeare is to the sonnet."
He and author/editor/therapist Mark Thompson have been domestic partners for
20 years. Boyd wrote an essay "Telling a Lie for Christ" in Thompson's signature
book Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning and is the subject of an interview in
Thompson's Gay Soul.
Boyd's 80th birthday was celebrated on June 8, 2003. In 2005, he will
celebrate his 50th anniversary of his ordination as an Episcopal priest. The
Malcolm Boyd Archives is in the Boston University Special Collections (771
Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02215).
(This biographical statement was written by an associate of Malcolm