Steve Coulter is a San Francisco based novelist writing what he calls short-horizon fiction, exploring a future shaped by today’s reality. He likes it fast paced with strong characters and an underlying political narrative. His work is enriched by his varied careers—soldier, construction worker, teacher, journalist, state legislator, corporate executive and library commissioner. Writing fiction, in a sense, is a new part of Steve’s career. He did corporate PR and politics for a time and that can be a kindred spirit to fiction. But doing it in novel form is new.

He has a BA and MA in Journalism and was a Lambda Literary Fellow in 2008 and 2013. In 2016 he joined the board of Lambda, the leading global voice advancing LGBTQ literature at a time when that community is under political attack.

A bit more on Lambda

Think of this non-profit as an intellectual resource for LGBTQ writers everywhere, nurturing, celebrating and advocating so their stories are written, published and read, affirming their culture and history while building public empathy, understanding and political support. Yes, he is on the fundraising committee.

Ma Bell

Steve joined AT&T in 1981, three months before the announcement of its breakup, and later, as VP of External Affairs for Pacific Telesis/Pacific Bell, helped the company navigate the political, technological and market chaos of the next twenty years.

Telecommuting with a friend

Favorite Memories

Pushing the company to address the AIDS crisis and become a national model. Many companies, perhaps most, were panicked by the issue in the 1980s.
Testifying before Senator Ted Kennedy’s Labor Committee supporting passage of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1994, to outlaw firing employees just because they were LGBTQ. Only one company testified (Yes, Pacific Bell). Not a popular business issue back then. Now it’s almost mainstream. So, some progress even if the bill is still not a law.
Telecommuting, making the company an international icon of moving work to people, not people to work, reducing pollution and enhancing employee flexibility. Many companies found this to be a threatening and revolutionary concept in the 1970s and 80s.
Focusing attention on the needs of people with disabilities in designing network interfaces so everyone could participate in the Information Age (a quaint term popular way back when).

Home Means Nevada

That is actually the name of the state song. Best not to listen to it, particularly if you like music.

In the 1970s, he served four terms as a State Assemblyman in Nevada at a time when Republicans and Democrats were (mostly) cordial and willing to work for the common good. A Democrat, he actually had Republican friends and co-sponsored bills.

He focused on issues of the elderly, environment, child abuse and strengthening the shield law for journalists. In those years, being gay and in elected office was complicated. LGBTQ tourism dollars have since dramatically changed that dynamic.

The Assemblyman and a very special constituent
Mayor Agnos makes his appointment in 1988
Mayor Agnos makes his appointment in 1988

San Francisco Public Library

Steve spent 20-years helping re-build the San Francisco Public Library system. Much of the time he was President of the Library Commission, appointed by Mayor Art Agnos (and reappointed by the next three), planning and constructing the New Main Library and beginning the renovation of all 27 branches.

The New Main in Civic Center is built on the ruins of the old City Hall destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. Parts of the 19th century jail were found during excavation. He is probably best known for his role in helping a fabulous group of activists create the James C. Hormel LGBTQ Center, a national intellectual resource, archiving Q history, achievement and pride. It is a place where young people, questioning their sexuality, can find honest answers.

Odds & Ends

A random class in college—The Bible as Literature—led to a lifelong interest in the nexus of religion and politics. And that is key to his third novel, Armour of God, out in 2018. At the height of the Vietnam War, he was drafted into the U.S. Army within weeks of college graduation. His most important class was in the eight grade: typing. He admires public school teachers, librarians, nurses and small business owners. He was a journalist here and there. He pounded a lot of nails; hammers were still mainstream back then, not nail guns. In 2017 he celebrated his 41st anniversary with the same man. They were married twice; the California Supreme Court overturned the first one. The Court was good the second time around.

High school in a small town

For the author, high school in a 1960s small town was a discombobulating experience when you knew you were different. Gay wasn’t even a term used much outside New York and a few brave publications. When discussed at all, in hushed tones, it was sometimes homosexual or pervert. Media rarely covered the topic unless it was an expose. And library books listed it under mental disorders. Who could admit to being one of those ghastly things? So high school (and politics) is novelist utopia, back then, today and in the next century. Just ask Spartak and his friends.

Steve, his dog Tucker and Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe