Honoring the Late James Hormel - In His Own Voice
On this week's Out in the Bay we bring you the story -- in his own words and voice -- of the late LGBTQ philanthropist, civil rights activist and ambassador James C. Hormel. He died in August after a full and fascinating life.
After a yearslong political fight in which homophobic far-right Republican opponents accused him of pedophilia and more, James C. Hormel made history as the highest-ranking openly LGBTQ U.S. official ever when he finally became ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999.
A Hormel Foods heir, Hormel grew up very wealthy in a place and time – Austin, Minnesota in the 1930s and ‘40s – in which being gay didn’t seem an option. He married, fathered five kids and became a law school dean before the political and social tumult of the 1960s brought a deep personal reassessment.
He shared his story with Out in the Bay in 2011, shortly after publishing his memoir, “Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador.”
He described the massive Hormel meat-packing plant in the '40s, being constantly supervised as a child due to kidnapping threats, his repressed attractions to other boys as a teen and young man, working to increase racial and gender equity when dean of the University of Chicago Law School, and later, after coming out as gay and Democrat, his 7-year campaign to become a U.S. Ambassador.
Ambassador Hormel died August 13, 2021, at age 88. In his honor and memory, we bring you highlights of that 2011 conversation. Hear Jim Hormel’s story in his own words and voice on this week's Out in the Bay Queer Radio from SF.
To hear more queer stories, visit www.OutintheBay.org