LeRoy Foster

Leroy Foster pic

May 8, 1925 – March 23, 1993

One of the most esteemed African American artists in Detroit history, LeRoy Foster was renowned for painting public murals in numerous buildings, including Cass Tech High School and the Frederick Douglass branch of the Detroit Public Library.  As with many gay men of his generation, Foster was arrested on charges of accosting undercover vice in the 1950s.

Detroit Free Press, March 26, 1993

Pearl Berlin

Pearl Berlin pic

January 6, 1925 – May 17. 2018

Born in New York, Pearl Berlin earned her Ph.D. from Penn State and from 1959 to 1971 was professor of health and physical education at Wayne State University.  She then took a faculty position at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.  She and her life partner Ellen Gerber were plaintiffs in a court challenge of North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage.   The couple legally wed in 2013.

Greensboro News & Record, May 19, 2018

Billie Hill

Billie Hill pic

April 22, 1925 – January 27, 2002

A native of Pennsylvania, Mabel “Billie” Hill moved to Detroit in her youth and discovered Detroit’s gay bar scene while working in an auto factory during World War II.  She later owned an antiques business with her then-partner Rose Bonham.  A longtime member of the Metropolitan Church of Detroit, Hill tended the door at the Underground and, as a lesbian senior, was profiled in the Detroit News.

Between The Lines, January 30, 2002