Jay was raised in several small towns in Kansas and Missouri. In 1977 he met his life-long lover Dale Allen. An education career brought him to Kansas City in 1978 where he worked as a special education teacher at Wyandotte High School.
Jay's activism in The United Methodist Church led to his involvement with Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian & Gay Concerns. After prodding his congregation, Kairos U.M. Church, to become a Reconciling Congregation in 1987, Jay became a leader in the national Reconciling movement, first on the Advisory Committee and then as one of the original board members in 1990.
His volunteer service also encompassed the Board of Church and Society and other activities in the Missouri West Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, serving on the boards of two local AIDS organizations and nurturing other Kansas City congregations to become Reconciling Congregations.
Jay McCarty was 49 when he died of AIDS related complications. Jay was survived by his partner, Dale Allen.