Ralph Stallings

Ralph Stallings pic

March 11, 1910 – February 8, 1994

World War II vet Ralph Thompson Stallings began working as a bellhop while attending Saginaw High School and rose in the ranks of hotels in Flint and Detroit.  He met his life partner Ralph O’Reilly at a bridge party when neither played bridge.  They soon shared an apartment in Detroit and later a home in Davisburg, where they raised Japanese bonsai before moving to Escondido, California in the early 1980s.

Times-Advocate, February 11, 1994

Deb Price

Deb Price pic

February 27. 1958 – November 20, 2020

Deborah Jane “Deb” Price started college at the University of Michigan before transferring to Stanford, where she earned her B.A. and M.A.  In 1992, while working for the Detroit News, she began writing a regular column on gay life, the first for a mainstream daily newspaper.  The column was soon syndicated throughout the U.S. and continued for 18 years.  Price was survived by her wife Joyce Murdoch.

Between The Lines, December 10, 2020

New York Times, December 10, 2020

Andy Karagas

Andy Karagas pic

January 1, 1921 – May 14, 1997

Indian Village homeowner Andrew “Andy” Karagas was the son of Greek and Italian immigrants and served in the Pacific during World War II.  Brother to Woodward Lounge owner William Karagas, he served as the nighttime host there for more than 40 years and was active in the Detroit Bar Guild.  Generations of customers recalled Karagas booming bar “Tonight’s the Night!” as he strolled the bar.

Detroit Free Press, May 19, 1997

Cruise, May 21, 1997

Between The Lines, June 1997

Brent Dorian Carpenter

Brent Dorian Carpenter pic

April 19, 1964 – March 23, 2020

Writer and artists Brent Dorian Carpenter was born in Detroit and graduated from Cass Tech in 1981.  His entrée into Detroit’s African American LGBTQ community came in 2001 when he approached Hotter Than July planners to promote his first novel, Man of the Cloth.  Carpenter became and AIDS activist and he worked as a reporter and regular columnist for Between The Lines before moving to Atlanta in 2006.

Between The Lines, April 16, 2020

Joy Geng

Joy Geng pic

July 27, 1944 – June 21, 2020

Dearborn Heights resident Joy Estelle Geng graduated from Plymouth High School, earned her MBA at Wayne State, and worked for Ford Motors from 1967 to 1997.  Geng was an early board member of the Triangle Foundation, initially using Jay Grange to protect her job, and remained active with the organization after it became Equality Michigan.  She was survived by her partner Maria Winiarski.

Between The Lines, July 9, 2020

Jerry Moore

Jerry Moore pic

April 24, 1928 – May 22, 2020

Jerry Abraham Moore grew up in Detroit, graduated from Redford High School, and attended Wayne State before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950.  Following his military service he became immersed in Detroit’s gay bar scene and from 1958 to 1960 served as secretary of the short-lived Detroit Area Council of the Mattachine Society, the first ever formal homosexual organization in Michigan.

Between The Lines [online only], June 12, 2020

Nikki Nicholas

Nikki Nicholas pic

October 1, 1983 – February 21, 2003

Southfield resident Nikki Nicholas, an entertainer in Detroit gay bars, was found slain at age 19 in what the Triangle Foundation identified as an anti-trans hate crime in an abandoned house in Green Oak Township.  The Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project held a candlelight vigil in her memory and the National Association for the Advancement of Transgender People later marched in Lansing in her honor.

Between The Lines, March 6, 2003

The Final Assault on Nikki

Valerie Connell

Valerie Connell pic

June 21, 1953 – November 20, 2008

St. Joseph native Valerie Jean Connell became a champion horse rider during her school years, taking part in multiple horse associations and winning prizes at the Michigan State Fair.  After graduating from Edwardsburg High in 1971, she joined the U.S. Army, later earned her B.S. and M.S., and went on to teach social studies in Florida.  Connell was survived by her partner Lenora Ledwon.

Miami Herald, November 23, 2008

Harold “Buddy” Bigham

Harold Bigham pic

August 17, 1915 – December 27, 1977

Harold James “Buddy” Bigham grew up in Royal Oak and had a long career as a photographer in the research department of General Motors.  A homeowner in Detroit’s Boston-Edison neighborhood, Bigham was a familiar patron for many years at the Diplomat, Bookie’s Club 870, and other local gay bars.

Detroit Free Press, December 28, 1977

Thomas Kyewski

Tommy Kyewski pic

October 27, 1961 – May 21, 2005

Known in Detroit’s gay community as Tommy K, Thomas Patrick Kyewski attended Hamtramck High School.  At various local nightspots in the 1980s and ‘90s, he did go-go dancing and performed as Tina Wells, and held the distinction of winning both the Miss Gay Detroit and Mr. Gay Detroit competitions.  Kyewski also won female impersonation titles at Gigi’s, the Gold Coast, Club Incognito, and Footlights.

Our Community Roots