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Jim Hormel - ‘Fit to Serve'

Remember the 1960s comic character Richie Rich, The Poor Little Rich Boy, who had no friends because he lived in an isolated compound? Well, little Jimmy Hormel, heir to the SPAM fortune, had that problem and more in real life. Born in Austin, Minnesota, in 1933, he was also gay in a place and time long before being gay was in the public consciousness. After marrying, fathering five kids and becoming a law school dean, all while still in the closet, he eventually found himself and went on to become a political activist, Ambassador to Luxembourg -- the USA’s highest-ranking gay official at the time, over the heinous and hateful objections of the religious “right” – and one of the world’s most effective gay civil rights activist-philanthropists. His memoir, Fit to Serve, full of insider political anecdotes from the tumult of the 1960s through today, tells his intriguing story. He shares it with host Eric Jansen and you, on this special edition of Out in the Bay.

Aired December 15, 2011.


Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.