LGBT rights activist Matt Palazzolo, a member of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and the Christopher Street West Board, died earlier this week on a hike, WeHoVille reports.
An avid hiker, Palazzolo, 33, apparently suffered heat stroke while climbing Mount Sonder, a 4,265-foot mountain in Central Australia. He and an unnamed friend were hiking the Larapinta Trail in temperatures reaching 108 degrees.
After the hikers became separated during their descent, Palazzolo’s companion alerted authorities to his disappearance. His body was found three hours later, more than 1,000 feet from the trail.
A Parks and Wildlife department staffer tells ABC News that the hike “comes with a high risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated.”
Palazzolo, who was heavily involved in local politics, memorably represented Equal Roots Coalition and spoke passionately at a rally protesting California’s Prop. 8. “Let’s never be silent,” he told the crowd. “Never blend in.”
Palazzolo’s father, Pat, expressed pride in his son’s activism on Facebook. “There were times when I reacted with resentment when people acted or spoke badly towards or about my son Matt because of his sexuality,” he wrote. “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,” Pat continued. “But he was also a determined advocate for gay rights, determined to bring awareness and knowledge to those who didn’t yet have it.”
As an actor and screenwriter, Palazzolo’s credits include Bloomers, You Should Meet My Son, and the upcoming film Stone Fruit.