Ralph Steven ‘Steve’ Word, 1949-2022

Last weekend, our community lost an exceptional ally, Steve Word.

His passion and commitment for supporting our community, especially our most at-risk youth, was unmatched.

We are eternally grateful for his advocacy and wish his wife, Deb, and everyone impacted by his passing, healing and strength through this difficult time.

Rest in Power, Steve.


“Steve, in partnership with his wife Deb, offered space to queer kids when no one else would. Before Metamorphosis there was the host family program. For years, Steve and Deb Word took other people’s kids into their home so the kids were not fighting to survive on the streets. Their complete generosity and commitment to the safety and well-being of queer kids is unmatched. Deb was often the face of safety for queer kids but she couldn’t have done it so well without the quiet, smiling grace of Steve.”

Will Batts

Executive Director 2008-2018, OUTMemphis

Steve was recognized in our Roll of Honor for his work as a former volunteer and former Host Home for OUTMemphis’s Youth Services. Along with his wife, Deb Word, Steve Word opened his home for years to the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ+ community: youth experiencing homelessness. Deb and Steve served as the frontline volunteers and the impetus for The Metamorphosis Project as it exists today. Their advocacy and willingness to contribute made a significant impact not only in the lives of the youth they housed, but in the formation of our long-term strategies to solve youth homelessness.

Service Information:

Mass of Christian Burial

St Joseph Catholic Church Starkville

May 20, 2022, Visitation 11-1 pm, Burial 1 pm.

Memorial Mass

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, 1695 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

May 21, 2022 at 1:30 pm