The Reverend Malcolm Boyd, 1923-2015
Malcolm Boyd grew up in a wealthy New York family. After graduating from the University of Arizona, he went to Hollywood where he became a production partner of screen legend Mary Pickford, eventually becoming the first president of the Television Producers Association. Ultimately unhappy with this career, he decided to enter the Episcopal priesthood in 1951, was ordained to the diaconate in 1954, and the priesthood in 1955.
Boyd began his ministry in Indianapolis where he encountered racism early on when his parish resisted his efforts to work with black priests in combining church functions. His prior Hollywood career afforded Boyd some celebrity status, and he was often asked to speak at various venues. These engagements, however, were quite often abruptly cancelled when he criticized the church for being blind to race issues.
From Indianapolis, Boyd went on to serve as chaplain at universities in Colorado and Michigan. His revolutionary ideas on social inclusiveness, rooted in the teachings of Christ, blossomed in his work for civil rights. He became heavily involved in demonstrations and other civil rights activities. In 1961 he and a group of other black and white Episcopal priests went on a Prayer Pilgrimage freedom ride from New Orleans to Detroit in an effort to integrate bus terminals and restaurants. Boyd wrote a series of plays about race issues performed at coffee houses, college campuses, and churches across the country. He became the national field director of ESCRU in 1964 and traveled throughout the South helping with voter registration, educational activities, and other civil rights activities.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, in addition to the struggle for civil rights, Boyd actively participated in the anti-war movement through demonstrations and teach-ins against the Vietnam War. Following the war, he became involved with other social issues, the most significant of which concerned homosexuals in the Church. Boyd publicly announced his homosexuality in 1977. In 1981 he became the parish priest at St. Augustine-by-the-Sea in California. For the rest of his life Boyd remained active in AIDS ministry and gay rights, and into his eighties he was a poet/writer-in-residence at Los Angeles' Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul. He wrote and edited 35 books, including Are You Running with Me, Jesus? and (in collaboration with Bishop Chester Talton) Race and Prayer: Collected Voices, Many Dreams. Boyd died in February of 2015, aged 91, and is survived by Mark Thompson, his husband and partner of over 30 years. [Sources]