Stephen Palmer and His Rainbow Thumb
The youngest of five children in a dairy farm family, Steve was born in northeastern Pennsylvania. In May, 1966, he came out to his parents after his first year of college. At that time, the support he was looking for wasn’t readily available. His parents expected that he would simply “do the right thing in the world,” and so he eventually married and had one daughter. The marriage lasted 23 years officially, but he divorced in 1995 and went to seminary at Drew University a year later.
As he puts it, “I began my journey out of the closet” in December, 2000 at the Gay Activist Alliance of Morris County, New Jersey (GAAMC). Steve served as chaplain for two parishes in New Jersey and during that time completed his chaplaincy training at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ.
In November, 2008 he was alerted about a chaplain position here in Sussex County. He was hired shortly thereafter and served VITAS Hospice for two years before deciding to retire.
During his first year in Rehoboth, he met his partner, Grant Kingswell at All Saints Episcopal Church, where they are now members. Steve and Grant have a cat, Oscar, and two King Charles Cavaliers, Sophie and Henry.
When/why did you start volunteering for CAMP Rehoboth?
In the spring of 2009, I joined the Rainbow Thumb Club as an avenue to share my love of gardening.
What’s been your best memory volunteering here?
The joy of giving from myself to make CAMP Rehoboth an appealing place to visit.
What does CAMP Rehoboth mean to you?
For me, it’s the place that LGBT people can come to for support and space in a culture that is still not totally accepting.
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do?
Fuss in my flower garden or read.
If you could spend a full day with one person, who would it be? Why?
I’d love to spend even just a few hours with President Obama as I feel he has done so much for our nation, even with all of the “no” people who want to return to the Roaring twenties crowd with each person looking out for his/herself.
“Wouldn’t you like to be a CAMPer too?” How would you encourage someone to get involved with us?
CAMP is large enough and diverse enough to need all talents to reach out to the gay and hetero communities. It takes patience to find your niche within the organization but it’s very worth it.
First thought that comes to mind when you hear the word “Rehoboth.”
Assuming you have any, what else do you like to do in your spare time?
I read as much as I can and participate in All Saints’ Church activities.
Cher’s not the only one who’d like to turn back time. If you could, what age/ period would you return too? Why?
NONE! Life is a progression and it is to be lived in this moment moving forward to new discoveries.
We know you already love Rehoboth, where’s your next favorite get-away? Why?
The Cross Estate Gardens in Bernardsville, NJ, where I volunteered for eight years to help maintain this taxpayer-owned, but not funded, jewel that is also known as “Everyone’s Secret Garden.”
Someone reading this wants to buy you a “thank you” beverage. What would it be?
A glass of Riesling.
As a teenager, who was your first celebrity crush?
Hugh O’ Brian, who played Wyatt Earp in the fifties. He was hot!
People often ask me, “What’s it like living in Rehoboth year round?” I love that question. How would you respond?
It’s frantic in the summer so one has to be smart about getting around the beach area. Then in the fall it suddenly becomes gracious and peaceful with great stores and dining for the rest of the year.
Thanks for bringing your love of gardening to our Rainbow Thumb Club, Steve, and for helping to beautify the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard. We’re happy you’ve made Rehoboth your home.
If you know someone whose efforts should be considered for the CAMP Rehoboth volunteer spotlight, email your suggestion.