Monica Molinaro

Monica Molinaro pic

April 2, 1949 – April 9, 2022

Artist, educator, Detroit native, and Royal Oak resident Monica Mary Molinaro graduated from Troy High School in 1967.  She later attended the College for Creative Studies and earned a graduate degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1983.  Her paintings and collages were showcased at such venues as Cade Gallery, CCS, Gallery 911, Flip, and posthumously as part of the Mighty Real/Queer Detroit exhibit.

Metro Times, April 27, 2022

Ray Johnson

Ray Johnson pic

October 16, 1927 – January 13, 1995

Detroit native Raymond Edward “Ray” Johnson graduated from Cass Tech High School and took art classes at the Ox-Bow School in Saugatuck.  He later studied at Black Mountain College in North Carolina before moving to New York City in the late 1940s.  Johnson became an acclaimed collagist and performance artist.  He relocated to Long Island at age 41 and ended his life at age 67.

New York Times, January 19, 1995

How to Draw a Bunny

Frederick Weston

December 9, 1946 – October 21, 2020

Born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised by his mother in Detroit, Frederick Weston attended the High School of Commerce and went on to earn his Bachelor’s from Ferris State.  In his 20s, he moved to New York, where he worked low-paying jobs while relishing the gay scene and creating an array of visual arts.  A long-term survivor of AIDS, Weston gained recognition for his artistic genius only late in life.

POZ, October 29, 2020

New York Times, November 18, 2020

Peggy Sauer

Peggy Sauer pic

March 2, 1925 – March 21, 1986

A 1944 graduate of Southeastern High School in Detroit, potter and sculptor Margaret Elizabeth “Peggy” Sauer earned her BFA at Cranbrook Academy and her Masters at Wayne State.  As one of the pioneering “Damsels of Design,” she worked as a designer of automobile interiors for General Motors from 1955 to 1962.  Sauer later taught and shared a home in Harper Woods with her partner Julie Sabit.

Detroit Free Press, March 24, 1986

How Margaret “Peg” Sauer Inspired the World

Walter Brown

Walter Brown pic

September 19, 1938 – September 10, 1998

Walter Leroy Brown of Erie, formerly of Southgate, grew up in Ohio and as an employee of National Amusement later worked as a manager of cinemas in Ann Arbor and Detroit.  In the mid-1960s, he served as “mother of the bride” for a same-sex wedding held at the Park Lane Apartments across from the Diplomat Lounge in Detroit.  Brown died during heart surgery at age 59.

Monroe Evening News, September 12, 1998

Gregory Williams

Gregory Williams pic

April 22, 1948 – December 18, 1978

Muskegon native Gregory Don Williams graduated with the class of 1966 from Muskegon Catholic High School and subsequently attended Michigan State University and Wayne State University.  In June 1972, he took part in Michigan’s first-ever pride celebration in Detroit.  At the time of his death, he was employed with a Wall Street brokerage firm in New York.

Muskegon Chronicle, December 20, 1978

Evelyn Fisher

Evelyn Fischer pic

April 4, 1941 – December 29, 2020

Evelyn Joseph Fisher attended the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods and earned her M.D. from the Wayne State University Medical School.  As senior specialist for infectious disease at Henry Ford Hospital, Fisher saw her first patient with AIDS in 1982.  A year later Fisher was instrumental in helping to found Wellness Networks to serve the needs of people with HIV in southeast Michigan.

Detroit News, January 16, 2021

Between The Lines, February 4, 2021

Jamie Bissell

Jamie Bissell pic

August 4, 1977 – December 3, 2021

Jamie Louise Bissell grew up and attended college in Indiana.  After earning her J.D. at Valparaiso University in 2005, she moved to Michigan where she first lived in Trenton and worked in law firms.  She later moved to Livonia and took a job with the Wayne County Friend of the Court.  She also served as president of her union local.  Bissell was survived by two children and her wife Molly Pastori-Bissell.

Owen Family Funeral Homes

Clifford Kelley

Clifford Kelley pic

September 28, 1937 – September 2, 1985

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Clifford William Kelley worked as a regional sale representative for Detroit Edison and was involved in Wayne County politics.  While separated from his wife, he was found murdered in his Royal Oak apartment.  Known as “John” in the gay world, Kelley was last seen leaving an adult bookstore near Woodward and Six Mile in Detroit with another male.

Detroit Free Press, September 6, 1985

Cruise, November 13, 1985

Rayya Elias

Rayya Elias pic 2

April 16, 1960 – January 4, 2018

Lesbian writer, filmmaker, and punk musician Rayya Mokdessy Elias was born in Syria, grew up in Metro Detroit, and graduated from Center Line High School.  She moved to New York in the 1980s, returning intermittently to Michigan, living in Warren and Royal Oak.  Elias directed the film shorts Anonymous and Lunchroom and authored the memoir Harley Loco.  She was survived by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Cut, January 5, 2018

The Alpha Wolf