Fit to Serve -- A Lifetime of Advocacy for Social Justice

Learn more about the Hormel National AIDS Memorial 30th Anniversary Challenge

Ambassador James C. Hormel, a human rights pioneer, public servant, and first openly gay U.S. Ambassador, is a long-time friend and supporter of the National AIDS Memorial.  

It was more than three decades ago when Jim hosted the very first friend-raiser to help create a memorial in an abandoned grove in Golden Gate Park -- and transform it into a living space of hope, healing and remembrance -- for loved ones lost to AIDS, the survivors and the heroes. It was through his early support, helping bring a community together, that today, the Memorial Grove is our nation’s federally-designated memorial to AIDS.  

Jim, married to husband Michael P. N. A. Hormel for over a decade, has received numerous awards over the years for his courage and leadership, including the National AIDS Memorial’s Light in the Grove Lifetime of Commitment Award and the San Francisco Commonwealth Club’s Champion of Civil Rights & Social Justice Honor Award.  

Both Jim and Michael have played a major role in effecting social change through their unwavering support of myriad organizations and causes, and have stood as philanthropic leaders, devoted to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people and people affected by HIV/AIDS.

Jim was one of the founders of the Human Rights Campaign.  He helped create the LGBTQIA Center at the San Francisco Public Library, which is named in his honor, and he continues to be a powerful voice for social justice.

Fit to Serve: Reflections on a Secret Life, Private Struggle, and Public Battle to Become the First Openly Gay U.S. Ambassador. Book available on podcast.

His memoir, “Fit to Serve” is a passionate and inspiring true story of his life and the determination for human equality and provides a compelling perspective for attaining one’s own version of the American Dream—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without exception. 

Jim has five children, fourteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren

“This book was written for people whether they are gay or not to recognize how important it is to them to be true to themselves and to recognize that they have the power within them to make a difference in this world.”

– James Hormel

Related Links

• Fit To Serve (video) by James Hormel

• “Breaking the Pink Ceiling” The University of Chicago The Law School

C-SPAN Conversation, 2012

• Swearing In Ceremony at the State Department -- June 1999

Gentleman Jim

Commonwealth Club honors Gay Rights Pioneer James C. Hormel

Clinton Appoints Gay Ambassador as Congress is Away

State Department Biography

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$30,000 Donor Challenge

Support the James C. Hormel and Michael P. N. A. Hormel National AIDS Memorial Grove 30th Anniversary Donor Challenge.  Jim was there at the very beginning, hosting the first “friend-raiser” for the Grove in his home 30 years ago.  Both he and Michael are long-time supporters and have agreed to match up to $30,000 of all eligible donations.  Learn more.

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