Guide to the Robert G. DeSantis Papers, 1971-1974

Processed by Nathan Purkiss; machine-readable finding aid created by Gabriela A. Montoya
Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California
P.O. Box 424280
San Francisco, California 94142
Phone: (415) 777-5455, #2
© 1999
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Robert G. DeSantis Papers, 1971-1974

Accession number: 94-4

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

San Francisco, California

Contact Information:

  • Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California
  • P.O. Box 424280
  • San Francisco, California 94142
  • Phone: (415) 777-5455, #2
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Nathan Purkiss
Date Completed:
January 1996
Encoded by:
Gabriela A. Montoya
© 1999 The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Robert G. DeSantis Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1971-1974
Accession number: 94-4
Creator: DeSantis, Robert G.
Extent: .85 linear feet in 2 boxes
Repository: The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
San Francisco, California.
Shelf location: Housed at the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center  of the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library. See GLHS and SFPL agreement. 
Language: English.

Administrative Information


The papers of Robert G. DeSantis (#94-4) were donated by DeSantis in 1994.


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California.

Audio-Visual Materials

There is one picture of DeSantis.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Robert G. DeSantis Papers, 94-4, The Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California.


Robert G. DeSantis was a member of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of Los Angeles in its beginning years. The MCC was the first lesbian and gay church, founded in 1970 by the Reverend Troy Perry.
In 1971 DeSantis began classes at the Samaritan Bible Seminary of the MCC (he was officially accepted into the program in 1972). After graduating from the seminary, he became an exhorter for the MCC. In 1974 he was appointed the Acting Chaplain of the San Quentin Prison Ministry by the US Board of Prison Ministry. The term "Acting Chaplain" was used by the MCC to describe his role as an unliscensed minister. The extent of time he served as the prison ministry as well as his future involvement with the MCC is unknown.
During the early 1970's DeSantis kept limited correspondence with several national evangelistic organizations such as the ministry of the Reverend Billy Graham. He also kept correspondence with California Assemblyman Willie Brown regarding the 'consenting adults' bills AB 437 and AB 470.

Scope and Content

The Robert G. DeSantis papers (.85 linear feet) document the religious career development of an individual who aspired to become a member of the MCC hierarchy from 1971 to 1974. The papers also document his involvement with the prison ministry and his personal correspondence with gay prisoners throughout California. The papers are divided into three series; the prison ministry and prisoner correspondence, correspondence and Seminary notes.
The prison ministry notes include administrative papers concerning the appointment of DeSantis and his correspondence with the US Board of Prisons Ministry, pamphlets of religious support organizations established at San Quentin, newsletters, papers collected from the 1974 Stonewalls Prison Conference, and personal correspondence between DeSantis and prisoners from various prison facilities throughout California. The prison papers are organized chronologically.
The personal correspondence between DeSantis and inmates from various prisons provides some of the most useful information in this collection. Letters written by Clem Bassett, Herbert Hay, Harry Lieble, and Bill Thiel give personal accounts of the experiences of gay inmates. The most interesting and disturbing papers are to be found in the letters written by Gary Keller and Ron Rose who maintained a love affair in the psychiatric facility of Atascadero. Their letters to DeSantis portray the violent discrimination that patients may have suffered at the hands of hospital employees after they openly acknowledged their homosexuality. The letters describe an incident, for instance, where Keller had been forced unconscious by a seizure and was awakened by a night guard who was kicking him relentlessly and accusing him of having sex with Rose. Keller said he was prevented later from taking his seizure medicine as punishment for the disturbance.
The professional portfolio of DeSantis, as well as his notes on the Samaritan Bible Seminary are useful for portraying the structure, ideology and hierarchy of the MCC. The seminary notes which are the last papers of the collection give an extensive description of the classroom content which was being taught at the MCC. Psychological theory is used in conjunction with Biblical principles to construct a Christian ideology that is both traditional and pro-gay. The notes are arranged by class subject in chronological order.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Six inches of pamphlets, propaganda and newsletters for the national and Los Angeles MCC.

Related Collections

Subject files: MCC

Container List


Prison Files

Box Box 1

San Quentin Ministry Notes and Papers 1971-1974


National Ministry Notes and Papers 1971-1975


Correspondence with California Prisoners:


Baldwin, Ronald E. 1975


Bassett, Clem 1975


Burkart, Nickey J. 1974-1975


Collier, Charles E. 1974


Combs, Dan 1975


Dudley, Timothy E. 1974-1975


Fairchild, Henry T. 1974-1975


Hay, Herbert D. 1974-1975


Keller, Gary 1973


Lawrence, Everett C. 1975


Lawrence, Scott C. 1973-1974


Lieble, Harry 1974


McCarroll, Ellis 1975


Rose, Ronald 1973-1975


Thiel, Bill 1974-1975


Prison Ministry Monthly Progress Notes 1974


Stonewalls Prison Conference, 1974


San Quentin Local Newsletters:


Moto 1974-1975


The Cellmate 1974-1975


The Vacavalley Star 1974-1975



Box Box 1

Willie Brown: AB437 and AB470 (consenting adults bills, 1971-72)


Billy Graham, Leroy Jenkins, Church of the Resurrection


Personal & MCC Professional Correspondence & Related Materials


MCC Samaritan Seminary Notes

Box Box 1

Rites, Sacraments



Box Box 2

Hose, Rev. John. Church Administration, 1971


Phloen, Rev. Rich. The Message of the Prophets, 1971


Harrison, Rev. Roger. John's Gospel, 1971


Callaway, Rev. Ted. History of Christian Thought, 1971


Practical Theology, 1972


Hetz, Rev. Dick. Sermon Preparation, 1972


Pederson, Rev. Don. The Epistles, 1972


Perry, Rev. Troy. Exhorters Class, 1972


Hauser, Rev. Dwaine E. PHD. Life and Teachings of Christ, 1972


Phloen, Rev. Richard. Survey of the Old Testament, 1972


Pederson, Rev. Don. History of the Christian Church, 1972


Rev. Hood? Pastoral Counseling, 1972-1973


Harrison, Rev. Roger. Survey of the New Testament, 1972-1973


Hetz, Rev. Dick. Pastoral Care and Field Work, 1973


Perry, Rev. Troy. Current Christian Problems, 1973


Fisher, Rev. Bob. Homiletics, 1973


Communicant's Class


Sandmire, Rev. James. The Gospels, 1973


Photos of DeSantis located in Photo Room.