Virgil Leone

Virgil Leone pic

May 30, 1952 – November 6, 1999

Virgil Julius “Tony” Leone was born in Detroit and graduated with the class of 1970 from Mt. Pleasant High School.  At Central Michigan University, he was an early member of Gay Liberation, serving as its president in the mid-1970s.  Leone later moved to San Francisco where he worked as a Registered Nurse and became involved in local HIV/AIDS activism.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 47.

Bay Area Reporter, November 18, 1999

Ricky Kirkwood

Ricky Kirkwood pic

September 23, 1964 – June 18, 1999

Detroit resident James Richard Kirkwood Jr. was employed with a credit union.  He learned he had HIV in 1989 and kept his status secret from his family for nine years out of shame and fear of rejection for his sexuality.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 34.

Between The Lines, July 1, 2004

Ron Owens

ron owens pic

November 22, 1945 – December 30, 1999

Hairstylist Ronald Lorence Owens grew up in New Mexico and served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1970, honorably discharged as a Specialist 5 in the Air Defense Artillery.  He resided in Southern California before moving to Michigan, where he lived in Detroit and Rochester.  Owens was a member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.

Cruise, February 2, 2000

Jim Beates

Jim Beates pic

December 9, 1954 – June 13, 1999

Raised in a military family, Rev. James Joseph Beates earned his theology degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  He moved to Michigan from West Falls, New York and lived in Detroit and Garden City.  Beates was the first openly gay pastor to serve in the Presbytery of Detroit and was active in Friends Alliance.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.

Detroit Free Press, June 16, 1999

Cruise, June 23, 1999

Robert Brunner

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July 14, 1955 – June 11, 1999

For more than 25 years, Robert Brunner performed female impersonation in Detroit under the name Melba Moore, winning the Miss Gay Continental U.S.A. title for 1981-82 and honored for Lifetime Achievement by the Performers Awards of Detroit in 1999.

Cruise, June 16, 1999

Melba Moore Tribute at Our Community Roots