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
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