BORN: August 2, 1952 in Andover, Massachusetts

DIED: July 8th, 2023, in Los Angeles, California after being hospitalized with an infection.

Rev. Dr. A. Stephen Pieters became a cultural Icon following his famous interview with Tammy Faye Bakker in 1985.

Pieters was a long-term survivor of AIDS, having been originally diagnosed with “AIDS-related complex” (ARC) in 1982, as well as Kaposi's Sarcoma and stage four Lymphoma in 1984.

His remarkable story of recovery served as an inspiring example of healing and hope to many across the country and around the world, following the release of “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” which won actress Jessica Chastain her Academy Award for Best Actress.  Randy Havens of TV's Stranger Things played Pieters.

The film, which debuted on Sept 24th, 2021, recreated Tammy Faye Bakker's historic 1985 interview with Steve Pieters, the first time a televangelist gave an affirming interview with a gay man living with AIDS. Pieters' interview was a turning point for him as well as for Tammy Faye.

In October 2022, Elton John’s award winning musical “Tammy Faye” opened in London, where again Steve’s ground breaking interview was portrayed in the show.

Rev/Dr. Pieters has been a singing member of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles since 1994. From 1994-99, he served on their Board of Directors, and as Chair of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles Board from 1997-99. With the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, he has performed in some of the great concert halls of the world, including Carnegie Hall in New York (in 1994 and 2019), Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The Rev/Dr. Steve Pieters received the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles's highest award, the Humanitarian Voice Award at the annual concert and Gala dinner, at UCLA’s Royce Hall, on August 13, 2022.  This was the first time in the history of GMCLA’s Gala Voice Awards that they will be gave their highest award to one of their own.

In October, 2019, examples of his work in AIDS Ministry and of his life as a person with HIV/AIDS were placed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Included in that collection is his infamous fairy wand, now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Rev/Dr. Pieters is featured in the 2023 documentary feature film, Commitment to Life. The film shows the history of AIDS in Los Angeles, including Hollywood’s response to AIDS, both positive and negative, as well as the experiences of minority communities. Rev/Dr. Pieters, as a client and board member of AIDS Project Los Angeles in the 1980’s, witnessed and participated in a great deal of the history of AIDS in Los Angeles.

In 1985, he was a featured speaker at AIDS Project Los Angeles’s, “Commitment To Life”, the first entertainment industry dinner AIDS benefit, given by Elizabeth Taylor. In November, 1987 he presented the Buddy of the Year Award to Whoopi Goldberg at APLA's third Commitment to Life bemefit. In the summer of 1990, he appeared as himself in the hit play, "AIDS US/II." His story also appears in the books, Surviving AIDS by Michael Callen, Voices That Care by Neal Hitchens, and Don't Be Afraid Anymore by Rev. Troy D. Perry.

Just prior to his passing, Rev/Dr. Pieters offered testimony and the opening invocation for the second year at the Hollywood Museum’s annual "Real to Reel: Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBTQ+s in Hollywood,” with tributes made to Fran Drescher, Geri Jewell, Michael Feinstein, Lorna Luft, Kevins Spirtas, Jojo Siwa, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner.

His highly anticipated memoir “LOVE is Greater Than AIDS: A Memoir of Survival, Healing, and Hope.” by Rev/Dr. Steve Pieters, will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in the spring of 2024. The book details Rev. Pieters’ remarkable story of recovering from AIDS in the 1980s and his health challenges and many adventures in Hollywood and beyond since that time.

Pieters says, “I have been amazed at how those 25 minutes I spent with Tammy Faye have reverberated through Pieters' life, more than almost anything else I've done. So many people have said my interview with her helped them come out or even saved them from suicide, by helping them realize they could be gay and Christian, or that God was not punishing them with AIDS for being gay.”

Rev. Dr. Pieters was born and raised in Massachusetts, where his father chaired the Mathematics Department at Phillips Academy. Steve attended Phillips Andover in preparation for his theater studies at Northwestern University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Speech in 1974.

In 1976, he joined Good Shepherd Parish Metropolitan Community Church in Chicago, where he decided to pursue a calling to the professional ministry. He received his Master of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1979, at which time he accepted a call as Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Hartford, Connecticut.

In Hartford, he served on the Board of Directors of the Hill Center, Inc., and Center City Churches, and on the Executive Committee of the Sexual Minorities Task Force of the Capitol Region Conference of Churches. The “Gay Switchboard” for the region was kept in his home, and he was interviewed in the print media, as well as on many TV and radio shows as one of the few local gay activists.

In April, 1982, Steve began experiencing the first symptoms of what we now know as HIV infection, but then was called GRID: Gay Related Immunodeficiency. Steve resigned his position in Hartford, and moved to Los Angeles, where he experienced a series of illnesses, including hepatitis, cytomegalovirus, mononucleosis, Cancer and pneumonia. That led to his diagnosed with ARC: AIDS-related complex. In April, 1984, he was diagnosed with AIDS/Kaposi's Sarcoma and stage four lymphoma, and he was told by one health professional that he would not live to see 1985.

There were no treatments available, and his doctor, Alexandra M. Levine, M.D., told him, "You in the church have more to offer at this point than we  do in medicine." She also challenged him to "do everything you can to create the conditions for medication to work when we find something," adding, "If 0.001% end up surviving AIDS, than why not believe that you will be among that 0.001%, and act accordingly?"

Not only did he live to see 1985, but during that year he became "patient number 1" on the first anti-viral drug trial to treat HIV. He took suramin for a total of 39 weeks. Within six weeks of treatment with suramin, both cancers went into complete remission. Due to toxic side effects, the drug was discontinued for use against AIDS. However, Rev. Pieters continues to enjoy a complete remission of his cancers, according to his physician, Alexandra M. Levine, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of City Of Hope.

Since his diagnosis, Rev. Pieters had served on the Boards of Directors of AIDS Project Los Angeles, the AIDS Interfaith Council of Southern California, the AIDS National Interfaith Network (USA), and the first Los Angeles City/County AIDS Task Force, and was Field Director for the AIDS Ministry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches from 1987 to 1997. He has written a series of articles for Journey magazine about his experiences with AIDS, which have been collected with other writings of Rev. Pieters' in the book, I'm Still Dancing.

Rev/Dr. Pieters was one of twelve guests at the first AIDS Prayer Breakfast at the White House with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and National AIDS Policy Coordinator Kristine Gebbie on November 30, 1993. The President talked about Rev. Pieters in his World AIDS Day speech on December 1, 1993.

Rev/Dr. Pieters has received awards for his ministry in the AIDS crisis from the Board of Elders of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches; Evangelicals Together, Inc.; the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; The Lazarus Project of the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church; and the West Hollywood City Council. In 1989 he received an Honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from Samaritan College, the seminary of the Metropolitan Community Churches. In 1990, he received the prestigious Sheldon Andelson Award from the Stonewall Democratic Club, and the Sandra L. Robinson Award from Community Unity in Dayton, Ohio.

Rev/Dr. Pieters received an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in 2003, and subsequently worked as a psychotherapist for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center; Alternatives, Inc.; Teen Line; and the Westminster Counseling Center.

Reverend Pieters has served as Staff Clergy at Founders Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles. He has traveled the world, teaching, preaching, and sharing his belief in God's healing and sustaining power while living with HIV/AIDS. Everywhere he spoke, he carried a fairy wand to teach about the importance of believing in fairies when so many good fairies were dying, of believing in each other and in ourselves, enough to do the work of healing, whether that be healing into life, or healing into death.

Donations in Steve’s honor can be made to AIDS Project Los Angles, City of Hope, The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and Project Angel Food.

Images by James Franklin, Courtesy of the Rev/Dr Steve Pieters Estate

For additional information please send an email to or call 626.296.3757