Michael Barto

Michael Barto pic

January 9, 1962 – November 7, 1995

Actor, director, playwright, and Grand Rapids native Michael Gerard Barto of Chicago earned his B.A. in theater at the University of Michigan-Flint.  In 1987, while pursuing his M.F.A. at the University of Iowa, Barto directed and co-wrote The Wizard of AIDS, which was performed more than 700 times over seven years throughout the Midwest.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 33.

Chicago Tribune, November 11, 1995

John Ferman

John Ferman pic

July 6, 1950 – May 1, 1995

John Barry Ferman attended Davison High School and worked as a go-go dancer in Detroit gay bars during the 1970s.  While pursuing a degree in psychology, he founded the first gay student organization at the University of Michigan-Flint.  A longtime Flint resident, Ferman spent his last years in Key West, Florida.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.

Flint Journal, May 4, 1995

Mitch Thomas

November 17, 1956 – February 21, 1995

Mitch Thomas, also known as Thomas Robert White, was born in Flint, graduated in the Carman High School class of 1974, and served in the U.S. Air Force.  White was employed for many years by Abbott’s Meats but was better known as a painter, sculptor, and regular performer at the Michigan Renaissance Festival.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 38.

Flint Journal, February 23, 1995

David Goff

David Goff pic

May 17, 1962 – January 26, 1995

Born in Ann Arbor, David Bruce Goff grew up in South Lyon and graduated from Manchester High School in 1980 before joining the U.S. Navy.  He later worked as a mechanic and apartment manager.  He also volunteered with Wellness Networks and was active in the Detroit area leather community.  Goff was preceded in death by his lover Rudy Sepulvada.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 32.

Cruise, February 8, 1995

Cappisene Ford

Cappisene Ford pic

January 11, 1953 – December 26, 1995

Cappisene Ford, known to most in the gay community as Ms. L.T.D. (for La Twiggy Darling), began to entertain in the 1970s at the Escape, My Fair Lady, and other Detroit bars.  She later went on to perform in Paris and Hong Kong.  From 1979 to 1980 she served as Records Officer for the Michigan Organization for Human Rights.  She died from AIDS-related complications at age 42.

No known obituary

George Benjey

George Benjey pic

May 29, 1963 – February 2, 1995

Hamtramck resident George Benjey was born in Detroit, grew up Downriver, and graduated from Woodhaven High School in 1981.  A longtime member of Metro Detroit’s LGBTQ community, Benjey worked at the Gold Coast Saloon, Backstage, and Tiffany’s.

Cruise, February 8, 1995

Metra, February 15, 1995

Richard Villaire

Richard Villaire pic

May 8, 1948 – January 19, 1995

Ferndale resident and pioneering AIDS activist Richard William Villaire was born in Wyandotte and attended Roseville High School and Ferris State University before earning his B.A. in psychology at Eastern Michigan University.  He was an officer of the Michigan Organization for Human Rights and was a founder of Wellness Networks, Friends Alliance, and the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project.

Between The Lines, February 1995

Metra, February 15, 1995

Between The Lines, March 1995