Out Gay Advocate James Hormel of Hormel Foods has Died


James Hormel, former out gay U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg and heir to Hormel Foods, passed away on August 13th, 2021 in San Francisco. He was 88.


Mr. Hormel was an avid LGBTQIA+ advocate and one of the founders of the Human Rights Campaign. Before residing in California with his partner, Michael Nguyen, James was closeted and married to the mother of his five children, Alice Turner.


James and Hormel Foods, home to Hormel Meats (Spam), Jiffy Peanut Butter, Planter's, and more, were large contributors to LGBT-focused organizations like the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Hormel LGBTQIA Center at the San Francisco Public Library. More below.


Gay James Hormel
U.S Ambassador to Luxembourg, James Hormel, 1999 (AFP/Getty)

Hormel was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be ambassador to Luxembourg in 1997, spawning outrage among Republicans and some Democrats who refused to confirm his nomination. Clinton made Hormel a recess appointment in 1999, allowing him to bypass the Senate confirmation vote.

Hormel served until 2001, as LGBTQ Nation reports.

After leaving government service, Hormel continued his activism and philanthropy. Heir to the Hormel meatpacking fortune, he donated to HIV/AIDS causes, civil rights organizations, and funded the Gay and Lesbian Center at the San Francisco Public Library, which is now the James Hormel LGBTQIA Center.