Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Peter Gomes

A celebrated preacher and author of best-selling books on religion, Peter Gomes was raised in Plymouth, Massachusetts and attended Bates College. He received a divinity degree from Harvard and, after two years at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, returned to Harvard in 1970 as the first African American minister in its history. Known for his eloquent and passionate sermons, he was also for many years associated with the Republican Party. President Ronald Reagan had Gomes give the benediction at his second inauguration in 1985, and George Bush chose him to deliver the inaugural sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington in 1989. But, in 1991, the direction of Gomes’ public life changed. After a conservative campus publication published some homophobic articles that led to a rise in anti-gay harassment on campus, Gomes came out as gay at a campus rally. He promised to devote “the rest of my life to addressing the ‘religious case’ against gays,” and later described religious fundamentalism as “inherently intolerant” and as determined to “destroy what it cannot convert.” The author of several books and collections of sermons, Gomes was best known for two books on religion that became bestsellers in the United States: The Good Book (1996) and The Good Life (2002).