Dr. Louie Crew Clay


Dr. Louie Crew was born in the deep South in 1936. He received his B.A. degree from Baylor University, his M.A. degree in 1959 from Auburn and his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in 1971. His dissertation was entitled "Dickens' Use of Language for Protest." In his career Crew has taught in England, Hong Kong, and China, as well as at colleges in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Chicago in this country. He became Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University in 1989 and retired from that position in 2002.

Crew spent a momentous year of his early life in the U.K. He moved to London in 1965, at 28, having taught in U.S. prep school for six years, deeply in the closet . The Wolfenden Report had gone into effect for heterosexual prostitutes in the 1950s and had passed the first reading for homosexual persons just before he moved to England. The police knew the Report's section on homosexuals was likely to pass the second reading (as it did) and were not prosecuting. Crew welcomed the chance to be far enough from home not to embarrass his family if he were arrested and having lived in self-enforced celibacy to that point, he gave up on the idea of his attraction to men being a "passing phase."

Crew had been confirmed as an Episcopalian in 1961. In the U.K. he immediately joined the Albany Trust (the polite name for members who did not want to write their cheques to "The Homosexual Law Reform Society") which was publicly supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey. Crew interviewed for six jobs in the first week there and was offered jobs at all six. To that point he had taught privileged students in prep schools, so chose to go to the least privileged school of the six..... He showed up on his BSA with tough work shoes he later learned the students were forbidden to wear.   He notes that during his time in London he "went to 146 plays, 28 operas, and uncounted cinemas and symphonies...."

In 1974, Louie Crew founded the national organization for gay and lesbian Episcopalians known as Integrity. He served as editor of Integrity's newsletter from 1974 to 1977. He also co-founded the lesbigay caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English in 1975. He served on the board of directors of the National Gay Task Force (now National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) from 1976 to 1978. He also served on the Wisconsin Governor's Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues in 1983.

Crew's publishing activity is voluminous, from article to essays, from poetry to full length books. He wrote the first openly gay materials published in Change Magazine, Christianity & Crisis, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Churchman, Fellowship Magazine, The Living Church, Metanoia and Southern Exposure. He has been on the editorial board of the Journal of Homosexuality since 1978 (except for 1984 to 1988). He edited A Book of Revelations: Lesbian and Gay Episcopalians Tell Their Own Stories, a collection of 52 biographies, in 1991. His most recent publication is 101 Reasons to Be Episcopalian (Morehouse Publishers).

Dr. Crew has been a member of Grace Church in Newark, New Jersey, since 1989 and has served as a member of the vestry, a deputy to diocesan convention and as a member of the rector search committee. In the Diocese of Newark, Crew was a member of the Companion Diocese Committee with Hong Kong, a member and chair of the Task Force on Electronic Technology, a member and secretary of the Standing Committee, a member of the Cathedral Chapter, a member of the Task Force on Minority Vendors, a member of the Resolutions Committee, a member and secretary of the Bishop Coadjutor Nominating Committee, a member of the Diocesan Council, the Diocesan Historiographer, a member of the Oasis Board, Co-Chair of the Oasis Search Committee, and a member of the Task Force on Episcopal Identity.

 Louie at 80th birthday dinner with Ernest
The Diocese of Newark elected him on six occasions (1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009) as a deputy to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The General Convention, in turn, elected Crew to serve on its 38-member Executive Council from 2000-2006. He was also secretary of the Committee on Social and Urban Affairs and an appointed member of the Standing Commission on Health and Human Affairs, a commission that deals with all the hot button issues from abortion to genetic engineering to all questions regarding human sexuality.

Louie Crew was recognized nationally by having a scholarship bearing his name established at Episcopal Divinity School and that institution also conferred upon him an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree in 1999. He was the recipient of the Bishops Cross from the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, Diocese of Newark, in 2000.  He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from General Theological Seminary in 2003, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 2004. 

Louie has lived with his partner, Ernest Clay, whom he married on February 2, 1974, in a relationship of love, mutuality and life commitment.  A collection of Louie's writings were published in 2015 as Letters from Samarian: The Prose & Poetry of Louie Crew Clay.

(This biographical statement provided by Louie Crew.) 

Louie Crew Clay died on November 27, 2019.

Biography Date: February 6, 2003

Additional Resources

This Louie Crew Clay Retrospective video was shown (a surprise to Louie) during the Integrity Eucharist at the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church:  https://youtu.be/ZiQNxdAn8sQ

This obituary for Louie Crew Clay came from the Episcopal News Service:

Kim Byham wrote and read this eulogy for Louie's' memorial service on February 20, 2020.

Archival Collections:


Episcopal Church | Integrity | Activist (religious institutions) | Author/editor | Crew, Louie


“Dr. Louie Crew Clay | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed June 17, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/louie-crew-clay.


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