Jerry Goldstein, LGBTQ+ Activist and Other Half of Pair of Who Created Elaborate Christmas Display, Passes Away

Jerry Goldstein, LGBTQ+ Activist and Other Half of Pair of Who Created Elaborate Christmas Display, Passes AwayPhoto courtesy of San Francisco Pride
Steven Bracco
Published on December 04, 2023

Jerry Goldstein, the LGBTQ+ activist and co-creator of the Tom & Jerry House Christmas display — with its elaborate holiday decorations and enormous tree at 21st and Church Street — has passed away.

Hoodline recently learned that Dr. Goldstein died after a long illness on November 15. He was 81.

A memorial will be held on December 7 at Congregation Sha'ar Zahav (290 Dolores St.) at 10:30 a.m.

Goldstein and his husband Tom Taylor, 'Keeper of the Rainbow Flag', had been together since 1977 and married in 2013. Taylor passed away in October 2020 at the age of 77 after a bout with prostate cancer.


Jerry Goldstein (left) and Tom Taylor (right). | Photo courtesy of Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation.

 

Commonly referred to as the 'Tom & Jerry House,' Taylor and Goldstein were well known for their annual Christmas display and enormous tree outside their Dolores Heights home. The display was last installed in 2020.

According to an SF Chronicle obituary, Jerome 'Jerry' Goldstein was born on April 5, 1942, in Niagara Falls, New York. Goldstein became a physician and moved to San Francisco in around 1969.

Goldstein would go on to become the Chief of Neurology at St. Francis Hospital and founder of the San Francisco Headache Clinic where he was a noted specialist in helping people with headache pain.


Tom and Jerry's Christmas decorations were displayed for the last time in 2020. |  Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Goldstein and Taylor were well known for their generosity and supported such causes as the LGBTQ+ Equality Movement in the 1970s and 80s. The couple also supported non-profit organizations including the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Frameline, Golden Gate Business Association, and Human Rights Campaign.

After decades together, Goldstein and Taylor were married in 2013 in a ceremony officiated by comedian Bruce Vilanch, the late Gilbert Baker, and Tony Award-nominee performer Sharon McNight.

In response to the news, 'First Lady of the Castro' Donna Sachet tells Hoodline, "Few people in San Francisco have had the positive impact of the late Tom Taylor and Jerome Goldstein. This generous couple opened their beautiful home atop a hill in the Castro for endless events supporting charitable causes."

"And, of course, during the holiday season, their over-the-top tree and decorations became a city-wide attraction," added Sachet.


Rainbow Flag installed on the Path of Gold Light Standard during Pride Month. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Through the Diversity Foundation, co-founded by Taylor and Goldstein, the organization maintained and cared for the Rainbow Flag and the spotlights at Harvey Milk Plaza. Taylor was known for sewing its tatters and making sure it was replaced in a timely fashion as each flag wore out.

Taylor and Goldstein were longtime friends with Baker, who first created the Rainbow Flag for the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. Baker passed away in 2017.

Overseen by Baker, the flag and flagpole at Harvey Milk Plaza were installed as an art piece in 1997. Since that time the rainbow flag has become an iconic landmark and symbol of pride across the world.

The couple was also responsible for funding the rainbow flags that fly from the historic path of gold light standards up and down Market St. during Pride Month.


Tom Taylor (left) and Jerry Goldstein (right) at Harvey Milk Plaza. | Photo courtesy of Daniel Bergerac

 

"I personally witnessed their generosity many times as Tom shared various flags from the collection he had from his friend, the late Gilbert Baker, to decorate the ballroom for the annual Pride Brunch, and the many times they stepped up to financially support charitable causes close to my heart," added Sachet.

Terry Asten Bennett, Castro Merchants president and co-owner of Cliff's Variety Store, tells Hoodline she's known Goldstein since she was a teenager suffering from migraines. "He was an amazing neurologist who pioneered treatments for migraines," said Asten Bennett.

Goldstein and Taylor remained in Bennett's life as neighbors with the "Christmas House" and "champions of the Rainbow Flag and our community."

Sachet explained that Goldstein and Taylor never hesitated to support the LGBTQ+ community. "As I got to know each of them, I learned more of their backgrounds and the depth of their commitment to the LGBTQ+ Community," said Sachet.


Donna Sachet (left) and Jerry Goldstein (right) at the memorial for Tom Taylor (2020). | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

"Jerome's death leaves the city a bit darker, a bit sadder, and a bit less wonderful than they both believed it was," added Sachet. "They will both be terribly missed by many, me among them."

"I feel blessed to have known him both personally and professionally," said Asten Bennett. "After several years of being unwell and having to live without Tom, I wish him a restful peace.  Our community is a better place for having had Jerry Goldstein as a champion and he will be missed."