Steve Pieters was born on August 2nd, 1952 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He grew up on the campus of Phillips Academy, Andover, where his father worked as a math teacher and varsity wrestling coach. Growing up, Christianity was significant in Steve’s life with several of his family members being involved in the church. But at an early age, Steve discovered that he was fascinated by the male body. When he admitted this to his father, his father responded with, “We don’t talk about that. That’s not appropriate.” Through this experience, Steve learned there was something wrong about his curiosity—which meant there was something wrong about himself. Clamping down on his sexual curiosity, Steve turned to singing. After high school, Steve sang for a time with the College Light Opera Company at Cape Cod. It was there he had his first taste of alcohol. Taste turned to habit during his years at Northwestern University, and the habit intensified after graduation.
Steve’s turning point came while lying on his couch one day in his Chicago apartment watching the soap opera The Young and the Restless. One of the show’s main characters, Kay Chancellor, managed to conquer her alcoholism. Steve was inspired, and on October 17th, 1975, he took his last drink. Next up was embracing his gayness. Steve found a community of sober gay men who in turn introduced him to Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). Not only was Steve able to reconnect with his childhood faith, but he soon realized he wanted to make it his life’s work. After years of study, Steve became the MCC pastor for a church in Harford, Connecticut.
But Steve’s greatest battle still lay ahead of him. In April 1982, Steve was diagnosed with AIDS. He nearly died, and his brushes with death continued on and off for decades. In 1984, he was given eight months to live; but Steve believed God was greater than AIDS. He clung to life. Steve later became one of the early recipients of suramin, the first antiviral tested against HIV. Steve improved on the drug, but most suramin recipients did not, and the trail was soon cancelled. While still recovering from the suramin treatment, Steve was invited to be a guest on the TV show of renowned televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. Steve’s appearance moved Tammy Faye to tears, and electrified her audience. To this day, Steve’s conversation with Tammy Faye is regarded as one of the very first media events that depicted people with AIDS as warm and loving human beings, rather than monsters. Steve’s interview with Tammy Faye was recently recreated in the feature film The Eyes of Tammy Faye starring Jessica Chastain, with a red carpet premiere that Steve was invited to attend.
Today Steve lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, and is still an active member of both the MCC and Alcoholics Anonymous. Whether or not the people Steve ministers to end up surviving AIDS, or dying from its complications, Steve believes his gift is helping people to heal. He has grounded himself in the Native American expression that “quality of life is not measured by length, but by the fullness with which we enter into each present moment.”
Baby photo of Steve Pieters, 1952.Baby photo of Steve Pieters, 1952.Steve Pieter’s baptism photo, Long Beach, CA 1952. L-R: Mrs. Shelton, maternal grandmother of cousins Patricia Pieters, Marianne Pieters with her hand on cousin Rick Pieters’ shoulder, his Aunt Mary Pieters, with her hand on cousin David Pieters, his grandmother Pieters in front of his uncle Rev. Reuben “Pete” Pieters, his grandfather, Rev. Alex A. Pieters, just left of Steve (the baby, being held by his father), and then his mother and brother, Rick, at the far right. Steve’s grandfather and uncle co-baptized him.Steve’s brother, Rick Pieters, age 4, and Steve as a baby, circa January, 1953.Family photo L-R: Steve, his mother, Rick, and his father, 1955.Steve with his beloved grandmother Pieters, circa 1956. Steve Pieter’s graduation photo in the 1970 yearbook of Phillips Academy Andover.Steve Pieters takes his curtain call as the male lead in “Carnival”, the spring musical during his senior year at Phillips Academy Andover, 1970.Steve’s 8 x 10 glossy from when he was a young actor, just out of Northwestern University’s theater program, 1974.The “Suramin for Brunch Bunch” at USC/LA County Hospital, where Steve and friends were on the first experimental antiviral drug trial used on HIV, in the summer, 1985.Steve Pieters in front of the cottage where he was first sick with GRID, Los Angeles. The photo was taken shortly after his diagnosis with stage 4 lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and AIDS, April 1984. Steve Pieters with his parents on their visit to see him, shortly after his lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma diagnosis, 1984.Steve Pieters hosting a visit from his father shortly after being diagnosed with lymphoma and Kaposi's sarcoma, 1984.Steve with his mother shortly after being diagnosed with lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and AIDS, 1984. The now legendary interview with Steve Pieters and Tammy Faye Bakker, November 15, 1985.Steve Pieters poses for the paparazzi at the first Commitment to Life, a fundraiser for AIDS Project Los Angeles, September 1985. Steve Pieters with family at their summer place in New Hampshire, summer of 1986. L-R: Jen Pieters (niece), Steve, his father, and his brother Rick Pieters. Steve’s hair had all fallen out with the suramin treatments, and when it started to grow back, it was a dull grey, so the friend who cut his hair dyed it a very light blond.Steve Pieters with family members gathered at the Sunset Hyatt when he received the Lazarus Award from the Lazarus Project of West Hollywood Presbyterian Church, January 1986. L2R: his father, cousins Lawrie and Lucia Root, Steve, cousins Rick Pieters, Marianne Thomas, Pat Markel, and Denis Thomas.Steve and his longtime friend, Christie Hefner, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, photographed for Kup’s column in the Chicago Sun Times when he spoke at a fundraiser for the Christie Hefner Fellowship in AIDS Research at City of Hope, 1988.Steve Pieters with his mother in the Hollywood Hills, late 1980’s.Steve Pieters with the MCC delegation at the Carter Center/Presidential Library in Atlanta, GA, 1989, when many Protestant denominations came together to sign “The Atlanta Declaration,” a progressive, liberal statement on AIDS. This MCC delegation included the Rev. Elders Jeri Ann Harvey, Troy Perry, Freda Smith, and several MCC pastors. Jane Pauley and Steve Pieters entering the front door of MCC Los Angeles for a profile segment on her primetime show, “Real Life with Jane Pauley,” June, 1991.Watching Troy Perry speak at a demonstration in the early 1990’s, across from the United Nations in New York City. The demonstration was staged by the AIDS National Interfaith Networks, and the heads of more than a few Protestant denominations spoke in addition to MCC’s founder and leader, Troy Perry.Steve Pieters’ publicity photo for much of the 1990’s, taken by his doctor, Alexandra Levine.Steve Pieter’s with his friend, Alison Arngrim (“Nasty Nellie Oleson”), Texas, circa 1992. “We were there to speak and teach on AIDS.”Steve Pieters (in the blue jeans and blue hoodie) with Rev. Troy Perry and other leaders of the Metropolitan Community Churches on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1993 LGBTQ March on Washington.Dr. Mervyn Silverman, Steve Pieters, Christie Hefner, and Jeff Jenest at an AIDS fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion.Steve Pieters meets President Bill Clinton at the White House for the AIDS Prayer Breakfast, November 30, 1993.The first AIDS Prayer Breakfast in the Family Dining Room at the White House, November 30, 1993. Steve Pieters stands on President Clinton’s left, with an usher between them holding the President’s chair. Also in this photo, AIDS “Czar,” Kristine Gebbie in red jacket, and Vice President Gore across the table from Clinton.Steve Pieters on a preaching tour “with my fairy wand,” circa 1995.Steve Pieter introduced Coretta Scott King at a Minority AIDS Project National Skills Building Conference, circa 1996.A print ad for a preaching engagement, 1996. Steve shares, “Yes, that’s me flexing!”Steve Pieters about to go on stage in a Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles concert of Rodgers & Hammerstein songs, July, 1998. He’s wearing nothing but a towel around his waist, and soap in his hair for “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair.” Steve Pieters with the west coast PR department of Playboy Enterprises, backstage at the Playboy Jazz Festival, at the Hollywood Bowl, 2000. Steve Pieters tells his story at “Rise Up!” a concert of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, July 2017. The concert was about the intersection of spirituality and sexuality. Steve Pieters and Alexandra M Levine, M.D., his beloved doctor since 1984, at the party celebrating his 65th birthday, August, 2017.PR shot of Steve Pieters from 2019. This photo was used in the “Where Are They Now?” section at the end of the 2021 feature film, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”.Troy Perry and Steve Pieters at Founders MCC at Easter, 2019.Steve Pieters, July 2021.Steve Pieters in his clergy collar, July 2021.
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