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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
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 professiona ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 15th 2011 by Skyhorse Publishing
(first published October 11th 2011)
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Jul 29, 2013 Lisa Carlson rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lisa by: found at the library
With the recent overturning of Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act it can only mean a special joyous moment for the many, many gay men and women who have lived in isolation; this story reminded of how they must have felt for so long. James Hormel grew up in Austin, Minnesota in an eccentric family and grand home. He describes the smell of the famous Hormel plant, meeting Oscar Meyer and how he began to feel attracted to the same sex. His story describes how he married, had children and still felt ...more
The story of James Hormel is a look in how one who is "different" (as in gay and extremely wealthy) attempts to find a life of meaning and fulfillment and to make a difference. The memoir of growing up in some town Minnesota in the 30's, WWII, having the successful beard of wife and children in the 50's, his activist 60's, his involvement and support of LGBT rights and AIDS, and his seven year struggle to become the first openly gay ambassador porvide an incite into these times and the United St ...more
Personally, I wasn't given much of a choice whether or not to read this book. It was kind of required for summer reading for a rising senior like myself. Upon reading the first few pages, I felt like I was living alongside Mr. Hormel, experiencing his journey through adversity alongside him. When I saw it was 300 plus pages, I was a little taken aback and thought it was going to be a drag of read, but I found Mr. Hormel's journey to be fascinating. This was probably the only summer reading book ...more
I don't think I've really read a memoir from a gay rights activist who worked within the system rather than mostly outside it, and this is interesting on that front. Also good on the kind of cultural change that's happened for the US gay community from the '50s ('40s?) to now. Toss in discussion of privilege and political change, and this is both an easy-to-read memoir and a polemic about coming out and being accepted.
Reading about the historical struggle of a gay man in today's society is aligned with wealth & privilege. I wonder what like would have been like if he was poor or working class?!? Very interesting to read and reflect on society & the changes that I have seen in gay & lesbian life.
"First, Fit to Serve is authored by our alumnus and former Dean of Students Jim Hormel, ‘58. Jim’s book is a very interesting personal memoir of his life culminating in the controversy surrounding his appointment as the first openly gay American ambassador to a foreign nation." -Michael Schill