Queer Heroes NW 2012

Norm Costa

Norm CostaNorm Costa is truly an elder statesman in – and on behalf of – Oregon’s queer community.

Norm enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1945, and served as Seaman 1st Class, USS West Virginia. He attended College of the Pacific on the GI Bill. He came out as a gay man in 1947, in Lodi, California.

He moved to Oregon in 1958, and commenced a successful career in business.

In the late 1970s, when very few people were standing up for queer people, he publicly defended homosexuality against the slings and arrows of the religious right on KATU’s Town Hall program.

For sixteen years Norm worked in HIV prevention and outreach for Yamhill County, and advised Yamhill County’s first LGBTQ support group. In 1995-1999 he taught HIV prevention to Family Court Detention Center juvenile offenders from Marion, Lincoln, Polk and Yamhill Counties.

Norm’s activities since his “retirement” are too numerous to list here. He is the past president and active member of the Portland Police Sexual Minorities Roundtable; past president and current member of the Veterans for Human Rights; a member of the Steering Committee of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes; board member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and an active member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Oregon.

Follow this link to listen to Norm Costa's oral history at Oregon Historical Society.

Norm died at the age of 94, on August 27, 2022. Omega Services published this obituary:

Norman Robert Costa

September 9, 1927 – August 27, 2022

Our friend, Norm Costa, passed away at the age of 94.

Norm was born in Lodi, California on his father’s ranch where grapes and walnuts were harvested.  Norm’s mother described her son as a gentle boy who loved to play in the backyard.  Norm attended New Mexico Institute where he participated in track and wrestling, while harvesting walnuts for work.  He enlisted in the US Navy in 1945 and served as Seaman First Class on the USS West Virginia as it traveled carrying troops back home from the war.  Norm attended College of the Pacific on the G. I. Bill.  For fun, he founded a group of race car drivers named Mid Cal Stockers and encouraged safe racing off the highways and onto race tracks.

Norm spent time in manufacturing jobs in San Francisco before moving to Oregon in 1958 to be with his partner.  He would take up hair dressing in a Lake Oswego salon, then audio technician setting up stage for grunge bands in the 90s.

Norm began attending Metropolitan Community Church of Portland in the late 1970s where he found the joy of nature outside of church and his faith fulfilled inside the church.  Please make any donations to MCC Portland, 2828 SE Stephens, Portland, Oregon 97214,

Norm’s last employment was with Yamhill Public Health working as an HIV prevention and testing facilitator.  His community outreach would last into the 2000s and included dozens of community awards for supporting LGBTQ groups and HIV outreach.

Please see for more details and photos from Norm’s life. Announcements related to his memorial service will be made there too.







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