My Steve is dead. Ours was a love and a romance out of legend. Even now, he waits for me in the Summerlands. But on January 27th, he lay down for a nap and never woke up. I grieve today as on the first day. It hurts deep within my soul. But I am learning much day by day.
Steve and I always watched “Gay USA” each week on Free Speech TV. It is broadcast out of Manhatten nationally on Dish TV over satelite. Living on a 6 acre ranch in the Las Plumas Mountains in northern California, satelite TV is the only way to go! Each week Andy Humm and Ann Northrup bring us an hour of news from around the world, the US, and NYC on LGBT people and politics and issues. Sometimes they interview fascinating guests. It is a great hour of commercial free television. You can also watch it on your computer by Googling “FSTV” and seeking their video library of “GayUSA.”
As part of Steve’s obituary, I emailed Andy and explained that a small town hero was dead. Steve and I live in Cherokee CA. We are in the heart of Republican, Christian, conservative, farmland, Northern California. San Francisco and Los Angeles may as well be a million miles away. But that never bothered my Steve, not for one minute.
The fourth Saturday of every June, Steve grabbed a rainbow flag and some homemade signs and headed for the main street of the nearest small town. There he proclaimed “Gay Pride” and encouraged people to “Come Out, Come Out Wherever you are!”
He engaged pedestrians in conversation and always kept smiling … especially when the occasionally drive-by “faggot” was hollared his way.
December 1st, World AIDS Day, and Steve was back on the streets with signs saying how many people worldwide had HIV and AIDS. He set a table with red ribbons and pamphlets of information for people. He chatted and talked with whoever would listen. Steve cared and he wanted others to care.
Every June and every December, Steve tried to get his friends to join him on the street corner. Some years one or two did join him … but most of his friends just weren’t street activists. Such did not worry Steve. Street activism mattered to him, so he went alone if he had to. I, his husband, joined him whenever I could; but a health condition prevented perfect attendence.
Steve went on to be active in PAWS, the Imperial Court, and was writing a history of homosexuals in the Third Reich at the time of death.
Over the years, Stve Palmer became our small town hero, our small town activist. Our conscious, who reminded us of what was important. We will all miss him in this neck of the woods.
Andy Humm and Ann Northrup gave Steve a most kind report on their February 19, 2008, Gay USA show. I was most comforted in my grief. But then they put Steve’s heroism in a greater context. Andy and Ann commented that many wonder where is the great leader of the glbt movement? Where is our MLK? Our Ghandi? Ann and Andy said that the glbt movement is such that we have hundreds, nay thousands of leaders, like Steve Palmer. People who do what they can to move the movement forward where they are.
I think Ann and Andy are correct. My Steve really was a small town hero of the GLBT movement. But small town or not, he was a hero of the movement and a man among men to me.
Oh, how I miss that man …. Richard Seward