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Episcopal priest, Malcolm Boyd, is star of a new documentary

Director Andrew Thomas's film 'Disturber of the Peace' follows the Rev. Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest who was one of the first to come out publicly as gay and says the church is too separated from the concerns of the average person.

By Gary G. Yerkey / September 21, 2013

Filmmaker Andrew Thomas (l.) has created a documentary which chronicles the life of Malcolm Boyd (r.), an Episcopal priest who was one of the first to come out as gay and who has become well-known for his views that the church is too separated from the everyday lives of Americans.

By Gary G. Yerkey


Los Angeles filmmaker Andrew Thomas has turned his attention from the secular to the religious by directing a feature-length documentary on the life and times of the Rev. Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest who says the church needs to be more relevant to the everyday person and has worked to improve that issue.

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Thomas, who has created, produced and written series for A&E and the Discovery Channel, said he plans to release a preview of the film, “Disturber of the Peace,” at the Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in California on Sept. 21 and expects to release the film at selected theaters across the country early next year.

He said the film will contain extensive past and present-day exclusive footage of Boyd, who turned 90 years old on June 8, along with interviews with those who knew and and worked with him during his long career, including political activist Tom Hayden and actress Lily Tomlin.

Boyd, who is writer-in-residence at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, said he has worked closely with Thomas on the film, which will highlight his years on the front lines of the civil rights movement and the struggle to obtain equal rights for gays and lesbians as well as his ongoing efforts to revitalize the modern-day church. Before becoming a priest, Boyd founded a production company with actress Mary Pickford and was one of the Freedom Riders.

Dubbed the “Espresso Priest” because he spoke in so many coffee shops, Boyd, who became one of the first Episcopal priests to come out publicly as gay in 1977, predicted at the opening of a month-long speaking stint at the hungry i nightclub in San Francisco in 1966 that the church as an institution would be dead in two generations unless it “comes down to earth.” Today, he says he remains concerned about the viability of the church, finding it is too often aloof from the everyday concerns of ordinary people.

South African Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has said that Boyd's "genius" has been to show that God is everywhere, "even for those who say they do not believe in God, as reported in The Christian Science Monitor.


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