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

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Overview

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...

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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Vanessa Bush - Booklist

Hormel recounts the controversies, from don’t-ask-don’t-tell to the Defense of Marriage Act, in the struggle for gay rights, and his own two-year roller-coaster ride to confirmation.

Richard Labonte

"A spirited, affecting life story."

Armistead Maupin
“Jim Hormel is that rarest of hyphenates: an activist-philanthropist. His generosity is legendary, but his greatest gift came not from his personal wealth but from his willingness to claim his own heart — proudly and with unforgettable dignity — in the face of public vilification. Well done, Mr. Ambassador”
David Brock
“Jim fought the right-wing smear machine and won. May his story inspire all those laboring against the hate and fear that pollutes our public discourse today. Jim reminds us that it’s worth the fight.”
Richard North Patterson
“Rich, engrossing, and deeply affecting, Fit To Serve is an intimate account of James Hormel’s landmark journey from the deep confusion of a privileged but closeted life to the bold and unswerving activism through which he also found his best self. In the truest sense, this is a great American story.”
Nancy Pelosi
“Jim Hormel’s spirited story is a refreshing reminder of the power of the individual in America. This book documents that a person driven by the courage of his or her convictions can still push the world to become a fairer, more equal place.”
Moisés Kaufman
“Future generations will look at this book and experience their history told honestly and courageously”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616083984
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/15/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,425,808
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ambassador James C. Hormel was born in Austin, Minnesota, in 1933. He has a law degree and worked as assistant dean and dean of students at the University of Chicago Law School. In 1995 he served as a U.S. delegate to the UN Commission on Human Rights. He served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg from 1999–2000. He also established the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library. He currently works at an investment firm and devotes his time to philanthropy and Democratic politics. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Erin Martin is a former journalist for the Hartford Courage and also worked for U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut as a press secretary and speechwriter. She’s worked on political development programs in post-apartheid South Africa and Namibia, for The September 11th Fund, and currently works for a Madison Avenue communications consultancy. She lives in New York City.

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