SF gay rights activist Dr. Jerome Goldstein dies

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Monday December 4, 2023
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The late Tom Taylor, left, embraces his husband, the late Dr. Jerome "Jerry" Goldstein. Photo: From Tom Taylor
The late Tom Taylor, left, embraces his husband, the late Dr. Jerome "Jerry" Goldstein. Photo: From Tom Taylor

Dr. Jerome "Jerry" Goldstein, a gay man and neurologist who was best known for creating elaborate holiday light displays with his late husband outside their Noe Valley home, died November 15. He was 82.

A memorial will be held at Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, the predominately LGBTQ synagogue in San Francisco, Thursday, December 7, at 10:30 a.m.

Dr. Goldstein's husband, Tom Taylor, predeceased him in October 2020, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported.

Together, the men became known for their detailed holiday decorations, which, as the B.A.R. reported in 2014 were "a winter wonderland with wrapped boxes, stuffed animals, and glittering lights, while a 65 foot tall lighted Norfolk Island pine tree is the centerpiece."

The couple first bought the tree in 1988, Dr. Goldstein told the B.A.R. at the time. As the tree grew, the couple got more and larger decorations to make it look to scale.

In addition to the tree and decorations, the display included trains, moving stuffed animals, and a mini amusement park.

In the 2014 story, Dr. Goldstein offered a little bit about the history of the tree.

"We first did it 26 years ago," he said. "I'm not sure exactly when, it's hard to tell. We had purchased a Norfolk Island pine, about three feet tall. It got bigger and bigger so Tom put it in front of the house. It got so big we started to fool around with it. It grew to 60 feet, people went crazy over it."

Dr. Goldstein was born in Niagara Falls, New York, on April 5, 1941, to Hyman and Mildred (Cherry) Goldstein, according to an obituary on Legacy.com that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. He was predeceased by Taylor, his beloved husband of 47 years, and by his sister, Rosalie.

The obituary stated that he followed in his father's footsteps and became a physician. In 1969-70 he moved to San Francisco, where he practiced medicine, becoming chief of neurology at St. Francis Hospital, founder of the San Francisco Headache Clinic, and a noted specialist helping people with headache pain. He was featured in the documentary film "Born This Way: The Science of Sexual Orientation." Dr. Goldstein was a noted authority on HIV/AIDS-related neurological problems and lectured extensively on the subject worldwide, the obituary stated.

As the B.A.R. noted in its obituary for Taylor, the couple had been together since 1973. Gay comedian Bruce Vilanch quipped at their wedding that their love is "the oldest standing structure in San Francisco Bay." The couple were long-term survivors of HIV who were told in 1983 to prepare for death.

That wedding, held in October 2013, was a block party affair at the site of their 21st Street home in Dolores Heights and was officiated by the late rainbow flag co-creator Gilbert Baker and Dr. Robert Akeley, a founder of Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights.

It was important for the couple to have a public ceremony "in the street where the SFPD stopped Tom Taylor and almost arrested him in 1976 because he allegedly had no right to live with me," Dr. Goldstein told the B.A.R. at the time.

Dr. Goldstein is survived by his niece Judith Weidman; nephews Sydney Weidman (Dianne) and Joshua Weidman (Amanda); great-nieces Samara, Zoe, Maya, Emma; and great-nephew Paul, the obituary noted.

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