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Richard Merritt Biography and Interesting Facts

Richard Wayne Merritt (born September 26, 1967) is an American LGBT activist, adult film actor, writer, and attorney. Merritt has been a public figure since he was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine on June 28, 1998, in an article by Jennifer Egan entitled Uniforms In The Closet: The Shadow Life Of A Gay Marine.

Biography

Early life

Merritt was born in Greenville, South Carolina to fundamentalist Christian parents. Merritt attended the elementary and secondary schools of Bob Jones University. During his high school summers he worked in various positions at The Wilds, a fundamentalist Christian camp. He attended Bob Jones University for two years and in 1988 transferred to Clemson University.

United States Marine Corps

Soon after his eighteenth birthday, Merritt enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (the Marine Forces Reserve) and in January 1986 he shipped off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. After completing boot camp he attended a brief occupational school at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Merritt returned to Greenville where he joined his Marine Corps Reserve unit, a company of ammunition technicians. Merritt attained the rank of sergeant in May 1990, but because he was transitioning to the officer program, he did not deploy to Operation Desert Storm with the reserve unit. Merritt left the Marines in August 1998.

Adult films

While in the Marine corps, Merritt appeared in 5 adult films under the stage name Danny Orlis.

Law

In August 1998 Merritt enrolled at the University of Southern California Law School in Los Angeles and graduated with a Juris Doctor in May 2001. He was a summer associate at the LA office of the international law firm Jones Day and became an associate after law school. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in December 2001. In late 2003 Merritt's father was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disease known also as Lou Gehrig's disease. The diagnosis and the nature of the illness prompted Merritt to give up his San Diego law practice in early 2004 and return to the South to be near his family in this time of crisis. He obtained employment at the former Powell Goldsten, an Atlanta law firm now part of Bryan Cave. His father died in 2005 and a year later Merritt moved to New York where currently he works as an attorney in Manhattan.

Controversies

Fundamentalism

According to his memoir, Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island was the first time he had any significant experience away from the fundamentalist enclave of Greenville and the BJU campus. During basic training his rack mate was Catholic, the first time he had befriended someone outside his faith. Bob Jones University has in its past had racially discriminatory rules. At boot camp, Merritt had an African-American drill instructor, the first time a black man had been in authority ov ... Read full biography