1923 - 2015

“Our essential differences from the norm are both huge and deeply offensive to those among us who wish to be quietly integrated into society without particular reference to our nature.”

 – Malcolm Boyd

Malcolm Boyd was born in Buffalo, NY on June 8, 1923. His parents divorced when he was young and Boyd moved with his mother to Colorado. During college, Boyd became an atheist and after school moved to California and became involved with TV and film production. Despite his success, Boyd found himself searching for more to life. In 1951, he began studying to become a priest at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Boyd was ordained a deacon in 1954 and continued his religious studies at New York’s Union Theological Seminary. In 1961 Boyd was among the first white ministers to work voter registration drives in the segregated South and three years later went to Selma to promote voting rights. At a time when many religious institutions were criticized as self-serving or irrelevant, Boyd delivered “prayer poems” from nightclub stages and marched in the streets to protest the war in Vietnam. His 1965 book Are You Running With Me, Jesus?, written in a slangy vernacular, took prayer out of church and put it into the streets. Boyd addressed real life problems, issues such as white racists afraid of integration and teenage girls getting pregnant. His directness and candor appealed to many and shocked others. In 1977, Boyd grew even more controversial when he became one of the first priests to come out as gay. He followed his disclosure with Take Off the Masks, a book he wrote because he was tired of living a lie. In the 1980s Boyd met author/activist Mark Thompson, and the two became long-time partners. Boyd was the author of over 30 books, a longtime columnist for HuffPost, and served as poet/writer in residence for the Diocese of Los Angeles. After 60 years as a priest, Boyd died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 91 in a Los Angeles on February 27, 2015. He was survived by Thompson, his partner of 30 years. 


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Protestant

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968) Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980)

Field(s) of Contribution

Advocacy & Activism



Humanities & Religion




Social Justice


US History


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Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Carrie Maxwell
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell