It’s with a heavy heart that we here at the Erotic Heritage Museum mark the
passing of Rev. Dr. Ted Mcilvenna. Mcilvenna, a United Methodist minister, a
leader in the field of sexology, and coordinator of countless educational
experiences and educational opportunities was also a founder of the EHM.
Earning a B.A. degree in sociology and philosophy in 1954, Mcilvenna was
recruited to attend theological school (his father was an itinerant Methodist
minister and missionary). He later went to Europe to study systematic theology and
philosophy of religion. Returning to the U.S., McIlvenna became the pastor of
Wesley Methodist Church in Hayward, Calif., in 1958 and joined the staff of the
Glide Foundation in downtown San Francisco five years later.
Through his community outreach with Glide McIlvenna became acquainted with
the San Francisco gay community. At the time gay men in the area were
experiencing high incidents of violence and persecution (church leaders actually
commissioned McIlvenna with the task of “gay conversion”), so he began to try
and help church leaders understand homosexuality. McIlvenna secured the
sponsorship of two national Methodist agencies to convene a consultation of “30
clergy and homosexual persons” in 1964 and was a vocal supporter of the modern
view that people’s sex drives are as individual as fingerprints, and impervious to
change. The positive results of McIlvenna’s work led San Francisco to organize the
“Council on Religion and the Homosexual,” where he became the first president
and driving force in its initial period of development. He was also a key organizer
and convener of the “International Consultation on Church, Society and the
Homosexual” in London.
With a growing interest in designing educational experiences dealing with human
sexuality, McIlvenna returned to San Francisco in 1968 to become co-director of
the National Sex and Drug Forum. Eight years later he helped organize and was the
first president of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, continuing
to work as a professor of forensic sexology.
McIlvenna lectured at colleges and graduate schools, wrote numerous journal
articles, authored seventeen books, co-authored eight and consulted to several
foundations in developing programs and structures for alternative funding for
voluntary organizations. He also produced more than 100 videos, mostly about sex
Despite retiring in the late ‘90s McIlvenna began to cultivate his new interest of
preserving erotic artifacts, art, and film in a permanent setting. Thus The Erotic
Heritage Museum was created between McIlvenna and Déjà Vu founder Harry
Mohney in 2006. The EHM would further both men’s interest in championing and
celebrating the study of the sexual world.
In October, the Erotic Heritage Museum will celebrate a decade of sex education
and artifact curation to the public. We are planning our memorial for Rev. Dr. Ted
McIlvenna during that anniversary celebration, on Oct. 13 th; please join us.