The Rev. Robert Warren Cromey, retired Episcopal priest, was born in 1931, raised in New York City and lived in San Francisco since 1962. Cromey is married and has three daughters and six grandchildren. Even though he is straight, Cromey has been a long-time ally and supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
In March of 1963, Cromey preached a sermon at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco about homosexuals. The Gospel lesson for the day spoke of the Christian concern for the outcasts. He was interviewed on the radio and in the newspapers and suddenly was a "queer lover."
In 1964, he participated in a weekend conference for clergy and homosexuals sponsored by the Glide Foundation in San Francisco. It was a dialogue set up to discover mutual humanity. After that event a group of clergy, including Cromey, and gay men and lesbians founded the Council on Religion and the Homosexual. Its purpose was to develop dialogue between straights and gays in local churches.
In December of 1964, several gay groups sponsored a New Year’s Eve costume ball with proceeds to go to the Council. As the guests arrived at the event, police photographers took pictures of the 500 people who were going into the party. Some party-goers, including lawyers representing the sponsors, were arrested. Cromey and the other clergy were outraged. Seven of them called a press conference denouncing the police and their discrimination against gays. Later a judge admonished the police for their actions and all charges were dropped against party-goers and lawyers. All this in San Francisco before Stonewall in New York.
In the fall of 1968, Cromey performed a wedding ceremony for a lesbian couple in St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church (San Francisco) where he was vicar. In 1982, when he was rector of Trinity Episcopal Church (San Francisco), Cromey allowed a gay couple to be married in the church.
In the 1970’s, Cromey had a private practice as a therapist and counseled many gay men and same-sex couples and often wrote letters and articles to secular and church newspapers and magazines about the need for gays and lesbians to have full rights in church and state. He appeared on local and national radio and TV, including Geraldo and Larry King Live. He published two articles in Penthouse on sex and religion.
In the mid-1980's, Cromey's church held funerals for 72 men who died of AIDS.
On Saturday, October 12, 1996, Ed and David were married in Trinity Church San Francisco where Cromey was rector. The wedding was filmed by ABC television and aired nationally on ABC’s Turning Points show on November 7, 1996, and aired again on Valentine’s Day, 1997. Many more marriages of same-gender couples were celebrated at Trinity until Cromey retired in 2001. The parish continues to do so under his successor.
In 1992, Alamo Square Press published Cromey's book, In God’s Image: Christian Witness to the Need for Gay/Lesbian Equality in the Eyes of the Church. Cromey has received the following awards for his work and ministry with gays and lesbians: Golden Gate Business Association award; Dorothy Langston Human Rights Award (1989); Saints Alive Award presented by the San Francisco Metropolitan Community Church (1994); Honorary Life Membership in the Council on Religion and the Homosexual (1998); Oasis California Award for work among Episcopalian gays and lesbians (1998).
(This biographical statement provided by Robert Cromey.)
Biography Date: September, 2004
Robert Cromey wrote this personal memoir (2013), "My Part in the GLBT Right Movement."
Episcopal Church | Council on Religion and the Homosexual | Activist (religious institutions) | Ally | Author/editor | Clergy Activist | California | San Francisco | Cromey, Robert Warren | New Year's Ball (San Francisco) | EXHIBIT Council on Religion and the Homosexual