Happy 80th Birthday, Jim Hormel

On New Year’s Eve, my partner and I had the pleasure of attending Jim Hormel’s 80th birthday party here in New York. I met his family – children, grandchildren, great-grand-children. His family of friends was there from Minnesota, California, Germany and us from Manhattan’s Upper West Side. His fellow LGBT activists and philanthropists were there to celebrate his eighty years.

Jim has a wicked sense of humor, but I was surprised and honored to find myself seated next to him. Over a lovely arugula salad, he said that because of the holidays he hadn’t paid much attention to the news, so was amused to find himself in the limelight again with the nomination of Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense.

During Jim’s long fight to become ambassador to Luxembourg, described in excruciating detail in his new memoir Fit to Serve [Skyhorse Publishing], Hagel had objected to the nomination because Jim was “openly, aggressively gay.” Jim said that Hagel had apologized to him recently. I said, “But you were openly, aggressively gay, thank you very much.” He laughed. He’d had to be.

If you liked this article by Kate Clinton, a columnist for The Progressive magazine, check out some of her other pieces by clicking here.