Time: 5:30 pm
Place: Giovanni's Room
At 12th & Pine Streets in Philly's "Gayborhood" in Center City
345 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
James Hormel is the author of Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador (Skyhorse, $24.95 hb, less 10% in the store).
Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador by James C. Hormel and Erin Martin
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (November 15, 2011)
Amazon: Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador
James Hormel grew up in the finest house in a small Midwestern town, with 200 acres of land, servants, a personal driver, and every luxury a child could dream of. The heir to the Hormel “empire,” Jim always felt like an outsider in the community. But it wasn’t until he left home to attend boarding school at the age of thirteen that he began to realize where his true feelings of isolation were coming from. In the 1950s homosexuality was not discussed or accepted—and Jim knew he was gay.
At a time when marriage equality and “don’t ask don’t tell” headlines dominate the news, comes the true story of a man—brought up among privilege and high professional expectations—who had the courage to be himself even when family, friends, and “normal” society opposed it. In Fit to Serve (November 2011), James Hormel, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, recalls his life in the closet, the despair it caused him and his loved ones, the freedom of finally coming out, becoming an antiwar activist, battling homophobia, losing many dear friends to AIDS, and eventually becoming an ambassador during the Clinton administration. Struggling every day with loneliness and fear, he tried to live up to the life his father wanted for him—he became a successful professional, married a lovely woman, and had children. But as volatile changes of the late 1960s permeated the American psyche, Jim could no longer hide.
Through thoughtful, narrative prose, Jim recalls his quirky childhood—his lavishly fashionable French mother, and a home from which celebrity guests came and went, in which several child refugees were housed from the terrors of World War I in Europe—and his journey against adversity, ignorance, and anger from lost boy to powerful openly gay man. Fit to Serve is an honest account of self-love and the sacrifices we must sometimes make for freedom.