The Rev. Dr. A. Stephen Pieters was born on August 2, 1952, and was raised in Andover, 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 1982, Steve resigned his position in Hartford and moved to Los Angeles, where he began to experience a series of illnesses that were diagnosed as 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. Not only did he live to see 1985, but during that year he became "patient number 1" on the first anti-viral drug trial, taking suramin for a total of 39 weeks. While on 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.
Pieters was interviewed as a gay man and a person with AIDS by Tammy Fate Bakker in 1985 on Tammy’s House Party, seen by millions of evangelical Christians throughout the southeastern U.S. on the PTL Network. Pieters later told People magazine: "She wanted to be the first televangelist to interview a gay man with AIDS, It was a very scary time, and there was still a lot of fear about AIDS and about being around a person with AIDS. And I thought the opportunity to reach an audience that I would never otherwise reach was too valuable to pass by.”
Since his diagnosis, Rev. Pieters has 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.
Pieters was one of twelve invited guests at a Prayer Breakfast at the White House with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and National AIDS Policy Coordinator Kristine Gebbie prior to World AIDS Day 1993. The President talked about Rev. Pieters in his World AIDS Day speech on December 1, 1993.
He has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Sunday Times and Time, Omni, and Life magazines, as well as numerous television talk and news shows including CNN, Headline News, Tammy's House Party (starring Tammy Faye Bakker), CBS This Morning, the Tom Snyder Show, America Talks Back, and Real Life with Jane Pauley. He was a featured speaker at an entertainment industry dinner benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), given by Elizabeth Taylor and honoring former First Lady Betty Ford. In November, 1987, he presented the Buddy of the Year Award to Whoopi Goldberg at APLA's third annual entertainment industry benefit. 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.
Pieters has received awards for his ministry in the AIDS crisis from the Board of Elders of UFMCC; Evangelicals Together, Inc.; the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; West Hollywood Presbyterian Church; and the West Hollywood City Council. In 1989 he received an Honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from Samaritan College, UFMCC's seminary. 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.
Pieters left his position with UFMCC AIDS Ministry in 1997 and returned to school at Antioch University Los Angeles to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology. He received his M.A. from Antioch in 2003, and now works as a psychotherapist at Alternatives, an LGBT drug and alcohol treatment center in Glendale, California.
(This biographical statement provided by Steve Pieters.)
From 1987 to 1994, Steve compiled, edited and distributed a monthly newsletter called ALERT about what was happening in the world of HIV and AIDS and what the MCC churches were doing about it internationally. See resources below.
Pieters recently received widespread public recognition when his 1985 interview with Tammy Faye Bakker was recreated in the 2021 film, The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
Pieters died on July 8, 2023, of complications from cancer.
Biography Date: November, 2004; rev. 2023
Recording of Pieters' 1985 interview with Tammy Fate Bakker:
HIV/AIDS: Is It God's Judgment? (This pamphlet was originally produced in 1985 in cooperation with the UFMCC Commission on Faith, Fellowship, and Order, the Rev. Jennie Boyd Bull, Chairperson. The 1994 revisions are by The Rev. A. Stephen Pieters, Field Director of UFMCC AIDS Ministry.)
https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/media/profile/stephen-pieters/HIV AIDS Is It Gods Judgment.pdf
Pieters presents in LGBTQ-RAN's 2022 webinar, "AIDS, Activism and American Christianity:
Archived copies of ALERT the AIDS newsletter Pieters wrote and edited from 1987 to 1994
Obituary in The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2023/07/11/stephen-pieters-aids-tammy-bakker-dies/
Obituary in The Advocate: https://www.advocate.com/obituaries/steven-pieters-obituary
Metropolitan Community Churches' Memorial Statement:
MCC | AIDS | Clergy Activist | California | Los Angeles | Pieters, Stephen | Author/editor
“Rev. Dr. Stephen Pieters | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed October 01, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/stephen-pieters.