SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, October 20, the co-founder of the Diversity Foundation of San Francisco, creator of Tom & Jerry’s House and activist for LGBTQ rights, Tom Taylor, died from prostate cancer at the age of 77 in his residence in San Francisco, his sister announced.
According to a post from the San Francisco Pride via Facebook, Taylor and his husband, Jerry Goldstein, were together since 1973 and got married legally in 2013. The post said Taylor was instrumental in building the reputation that Castro has as the most famous LGBTQ+ neighborhood in the U.S.
In 2012, Taylor and Goldstein founded the Diversity Foundation of San Francisco. They made community efforts for many decades, including making rainbow flags, raising new rainbow flags in the Castro District, maintaining the flags in good condition and paying for storage of the flag. The Diversity Foundation of San Francisco stated that they also contributed to another flag project, Rainbow Flag at City Hall, by hanging the symbol to celebrate Marriage Equality with Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor Ed Lee.
Taylor and Goldstein decorated their house, named Tom and Jerry’s House, in Dolores Heights for the Christmas holiday, attracting many visitors every year. Filmmaker Richard Gutierrez made a short documentary about the decoration of the house in 2011 titled Making Christmas: The View from the Tom and Jerry Christmas Tree. From the IMBD’s website, the documentary shows how Taylor and Goldstein transformed Dolores Heights into Santa’s Village for over 20 years.
Terry Asten Bennett, previous president and current member of the Castro Merchants Association, commented on social media about Taylor’s death:
“We are so grateful for everything Tom has done for our community. Tom quietly cared for the flag pole and Rainbow Flag. He stored and modified the giant flags to ensure the flapping wouldn’t keep the neighborhood awake at night,” Bennett said. “Tom and Jerry spent thousands of dollars and jumped through city bureaucracy to make sure the flag stayed lit at night. Every year he would transform the scrawny tree in front of their 21st Street home into a Christmas fantasy. You brought so much joy to our community. Thank you. You will be forever missed.”
Bennett told the San Francisco News that she does not have any information about a memorial and funeral at this moment.
On October 21, California State Senator Scott Wiener told Bay Area Reporter that Taylor was a kind, selfless, generous human being who was always there for others. He told them Taylor was one of the engines that made the Castro run, and that he cared for and uplifted their neighborhood for decades.
The activist’s sister Barbara Taylor Andreozzi released the following statement via Facebook:
“Our family is grieving deeply. Tom passed on Tuesday morning, October 20, at his beloved home in San Francisco after a long and courageous battle with prostate cancer. COVID-19 is delaying plans for a memorial.”