Max Toy

Max Toy pic

August 3, 1925 – June 11, 2008

Max Edward Toy was schooled in Lansing and graduated from Albion College.  He served as a sonar operator in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  Before his retirement, Toy was employed at Michigan Employment Security Commission offices in Niles and Detroit.  Toy was a subscriber to ONE magazine in the 1950s.

Lansing State Journal, June 13, 2008

Mable Stewart Merritt

mable stewart merritt pic

September 8, 1925 – December 19, 2017

Born in upstate New York, Mable Stewart Merritt moved with her family as a child to Grosse Pointe, where she graduated from high school.  She worked as a typesetter for the United Auto Workers union for 40 years.  Merritt was interviewed by Roey Thorpe in 1992 about her involvement in lesbian life in Detroit during the 1950s.

Kansas City Star, January 3, 2018

Duane VanderYacht

March 12, 1925 – January 11, 1980

Duane Andrew VanderYacht attended Holland Public Schools, graduated from Hope College, and lived most of his life in Holland before moving to Muskegon.  He worked as a salesman, janitor, and later in life was self-employed as a consultant.  During the 1950s, VanderYacht was a subscriber to ONE magazine.

Muskegon Chronicle, January 14, 1980

Maryann Mahaffey

Maryann Mahaffey pic

January 18, 1925 – July 27, 2006

Longtime Detroit City Council president Maryann Mahaffey toured several gay bars on election eve during her first campaign for Council in 1973.  In the decades that followed, she never wavered in her support for the LGBTQ community, from helping include sexual orientation in the city’s human rights ordinance to opposing the Prop 2 initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the state constitution.

Between The Lines, August 3, 2006

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