Matt Palazzolo, Young Gay L.A. Activist and Actor, Dies on Australia Mountain Hike


Matt Palazzolo, an actor and writer who was a longtime member of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, a member of the Christopher Street West Board and very well known in the city’s gay community, died Tuesday while hiking in Australia.

Palazzolo, 33, apparently died of a heat stroke while climbing Mount Sonder, a 4,265-foot mountain in Central Australia. Palazzolo, an avid hiker and a friend were hiking in 108 degree heat.

Palazzolo was born in Fremont and has a resume that includes roles in “Bloomers” (2011), “Stone Fruit” (2018) and “Switched at Birth” (2011).

Matt Palazzolo

Palazzolo was appointed to LGAB by then-West Hollywood City Councilmember Abbe Land and later re-appointed by Councilmember John Duran and served for eight years. He also was active in local politics, hosting an event to promote Sam Borelli’s candidacy for a City Council seat in 2013 and also promoting former Councilmember Jeffrey Prang, who now is Los Angeles County Assessor. His activist work included involvement in the “No on Prop 8” movement, which included a protest rally drawing more than 12,000 people opposed to the ban on same-sex marriage in 2008.

ABC News in Darwin, Australia, reported that Palazzolo and an unnamed partner set out to hike the Larapinta Trail on Mount Sonder at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. The hike up and down the trail was about 10 miles long. Palazzolo and his hiking partner were headed down the trail when Palazzolo ran off from his partner. When the hiking partner arrived at a car park he alerted authorities to Palazzolo’s disappearance. It took them three hours to find Palazzolo, whose body was located more than a thousand feet away from the trail.


Chris Day from the area’s Parks and Wildlife staff told ABC News that such a hike “comes with a high risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated.”

There was an outpouring of expressions of grief on Facebook from Palazzolo’s friends and family members. His father, Pat Palazzolo, expressed his  pride in his son for his work as an advocate for gay rights, referencing the video posted at the top of this story:

“Dear family and friends,

“There were times when I reacted with resentment when people acted or spoke badly towards or about my son Matt because of his sexuality. But he seemed to always react with compassion, love and understanding.

“He told me once that everybody has their own timetable for understanding what they previously didn’t understand.

“But he was also a determined advocate for gay rights, determined to bring awareness and knowledge to those who didn’t yet have it. This video was one moment from Matt’s young life that we are all so proud of. “

CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this story said Matt Palazzolo was originally appointed to the City of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board by John Duran. In fact he originally was appointed by then-City Councilmember Abbe Land and then re-appointed by Duran. The story has been corrected.

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