A practicing attorney in the 1960s, Hormel served for six years as the dean of students at the University of Chicago Law School. Considered by President Bill Clinton for the position of Ambassador to Fiji. he was passed over to avoid stirring up controversy in the newly Republican Senate in 1994. Clinton did appoint him Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999, in a recess appointment, and he became the first openly gay man to represent the United States as an ambassador. His partner since 1995, Timothy Wu, held the Bible on which Hormel swore his oath of office.
James Catherwood Hormel (born January 1, 1933) is an American philanthropist and grandson of George A. Hormel, founder of Hormel Foods (producers of Spam and other processed meat products).
Hormel was born in Austin, Minnesota. He earned a B.A. in history (1955) from Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania and a law degree (1958) from the University of Chicago Law School where he later served as dean of students and director of admissions. In 1981 he was one of the founders of the Human Rights Campaign. He was a member of the 1995 United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the 1996 U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, and the boards of directors of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Hormel funded the creation of James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library in 1995. It is the gateway to collections documenting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history and culture, with a special emphasis on the San Francisco Bay Area.
As heir to the Hormel Ham fortune, James Catherwood Hormel (born January 1, 1933) has supported numerous homosexual causes, including National Gay Rights Advocates and AIDS-related projects. He underwrote the run of Angels in America in San Francisco. Hormel has five children, fourteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He lives in San Francisco, California with his life partner since 2006, Michael P. Nguyen. Mr. Nguyen is also an alumnus of Swarthmore College, class of 2008.
Hormel was appointed United States Ambassador to Luxembourg by President Bill Clinton in 1999. When he was appointed through a recess appointment, Hormel became the first openly gay man to represent the United States as an ambassador.
Hormel participated in numerous events, including a conference organized in 2004 by Amnesty International in the frame of the Geneva Gay Pride. In 2010 he was given the Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshall Award by San Francisco Pride Board of Directors for his LGBT activism over several decades.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton considered Hormel for the ambassadorship to Fiji, but did not put the nomination forward due to protests from Fiji officials. Gay male sexual acts were punishable with prison sentences in Fiji and Hormel's being open about his sexuality would stand in conflict with the culture. Instead Hormel was named as part of the United Nations delegation from the US to the Human Rights Commission in 1995, and in 1996 became an alternate for the United Nations General Assembly. In October 1997 Clinton nominated Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg, which had removed laws prohibiting consensual same-sex acts between adults in the 1800s. This appointment was the first nomination or appointment of an openly LGBT person from the US.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination with only Republican and conservative Senators Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft opposed. Three other Republicans, James Inhofe, Tim Hutchinson, and Robert C. Smith, with the urging of religious and social conservatives campaigned vigorously against Hormel's nomination. Trent Lott, the Republican Majority Leader, worked to block the vote and publicly called homosexuality a sin and compared it to alcoholism and kleptomania. Christian-based conservative groups like the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) and the Family Research Council (FRC) publicly accused Hormel of being pro-pornography and anti-Catholic and the Senators presented those charges to derail the nomination. They asserted that Hormel would be rejected in the largely Catholic Luxembourg. To support the pornography allegation, a list of materials in the Hormel collection at the San Francisco Public Library was compiled by the TVC; it was later pointed out that the same works were also in the Library of Congress. The anti-Catholic allegation stemmed from a 1996 San Francisco Pride parade television interview where he was seen laughing at the same time the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group that pokes fun at religious conventions, walked by. The Catholic League opposed his nomination because of his "embrace" of the Sisters which the League considers an anti-Catholic group. Although it was unclear why he was laughing, Christian right conservative group FRC distributed video tapes to the entire Senate of the brief event.
Concerns about Hormel's reception in Luxembourg were "blunted when officials of the country, which has laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation, indicated that he would be welcome." Senator Alfonse D'Amato of New York found the obstruction of the nomination an embarrassment and urged that Trent Lott bring the issue up for a vote. When Lott continued to stall, Clinton employed a recess appointment in May 1999. Hormel was sworn in as ambassador in June 1999. His partner at the time, Timothy Wu, held the Bible during the ceremony. Also in attendance were Hormel's former wife, his five children, and several of his grandchildren.
Hormel has five children, fourteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He lives in San Francisco, California with his life partner since 2006, Michael P. Nguyen. Mr. Nguyen is also an alumnus of Swarthmore College, class of 2008.
In his bio's, Fit to Serve, close Hormel speaks, almost lyrically, of falling in love—and wrestling privately with ageism—after meeting his current partner, 26-year-old Michael Nguyen, a dancer and musician. "Michael is so much a part of my discovery process. He’s shown me the surprising beauty of life and to see it through the eyes of someone of another generation, someone who’s thoughts aren’t clouded with misconceptions. Michael’s enabled me to see the gift of being true to ourselves."
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
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
One man's gripping memoir of freedom and determination in a heterosexual world.
This is the memoir of James C. Hormel—a man who grew up feeling different not only because his family owned the Hormel “empire” and lived in a twenty-six-bedroom house in a small Midwest town, but because he was gay at a time when homosexuality was not discussed or accepted. Outwardly he tried to live up to the life his father wanted for him—he was a successful professional, had married a lovely woman, and had children—but as vola-tile changes in the late 1960s impeded on the American psyche, Hormel realized that he could not hide his true self forever.
Hormel moved to New York City, became an antiwar activist, battled homophobia, lost dear friends to AIDS, and set out to become America’s first openly gay ambassador, a position he finally won during the Clinton administration. Today, Hormel continues to fight for LGBT equality and gay marriage rights. This is a passionate and inspiring true story of the determination for human equality and for attaining your own version of the American Dream—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without exception.
More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/3413917.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.