November 8, 1971 – November 27, 2016
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Virlena Cerese Reed of Ann Arbor, previously of Ypsilanti, graduated from Belleville High School and attended Washtenaw Community College. She earned her Bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan University in 2000 and worked as a case manager as well as an artist. Reed was survived by her son Christopher Fitzner-Reed and her co-parenting partner Melinda Fitzner.
Ann Arbor News, November 30, 2016
March 2, 1974 – March 8, 2016
Matthew William Robison came from Erie, Pennsylvania in the early 1990s to attend the University of Michigan, where he was active in the Queer Unity Project. After earning degrees in psychology and social change from UM, he went to Stanford for his J.D. and later worked as an attorney for the ACLU in New York City. Robison returned to his native state and remained involved in LGBTQ+ activism.
Erie Times-News, April 10, 2016
March 27, 1959 – February 26, 2016
Debra Lynn Robinson of Sister Lakes was born in Battle Creek, graduated with the class of 1976 from Gull Lake High School, and studied at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She worked as a master electrician at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant and belonged to IBEW Local 131. In 2014, Robinson married her partner Patricia Cloud who preceded her in death by five months.
Battle Creek Enquirer, March 2, 2016
March 5, 1931 – October 9, 2016
Betty Hudson grew up in Connecticut and attended Michigan State University in the early 1950s with her twin sister Marie. She left college for a heterosexual marriage, which ended on good terms in the mid-1970s when she came out. Hudson served two terms in the Connecticut legislature and was survived by her companion of more than 35 years Fran Roberts and her daughter and son.
Lesbian Connection, January/February 2017
August 12, 1958 – July 25, 2016
Theresa Mary Guillean of Bloomfield Hills graduated with the Pontiac Catholic High School class of 1976. She went on to earn her B.S. in 1990 from Oakland University and devoted herself to social work. Guillean and her wife Lori Klein Shapiro were among more than 300 couples issued marriage licenses on March 22, 2014 after a federal judge overturned Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home
November 26, 1936 – October 12, 2016
Originally from Flint, Wayne Friday served in the U.S. Navy following high school and later worked as a stock broker on Wall Street and in San Francisco where Friday became close friends with future gay supervisor Harvey Milk. He also tended bar and for more than three decades he wrote a political column for the Bay Area Reporter. Suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Friday took his own life at age 79.
Bay Area Reporter, October 13, 2016
June 21, 1971 – June 3, 2016
Ishpeming native Lee Allen LaForge grew up in Republic, was a 1989 graduate of Republic-Michigamme High School, and went on to earn his Master of Science from Northern Michigan University. He was active in the Marquette arts scene, directing and performing in local theater. At the time of his death, LaForge worked as an adjunct professor at NMU, as a tutor, and as manager of Book World.
Bjork & Zhulkie Funeral Home
December 24, 1979 – September 23, 2016
Ryan Pennacchini Hall was born in Midland and grew up in Gladwin. He graduated from Gladwin High School and attended Eastern Michigan University before moving in 2003 to Tucson, Arizona, where he worked as a manager at Bookmans new and used bookstore. Pennacchini Hall and his spouse Frederico Hall Pennacchini were married on October 25, 2014.
Gladwin County Record, October 5, 2016
Hall-Kokotovich Funeral Home
July 9, 1935 – April 29, 2016
Redford Township native Toni Langfield came out following a heterosexual marriage. She enjoyed a long career as a children’s librarian in the San Francisco Bay area and was active in Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. Langfield was preceded in death by a son and was survived by another son, two daughters, and Carly Rivers, her partner of more than 20 years.
East Bay Times, May 27, 2016
The Record, September 2016
June 9, 1962 – June 29, 2016
Redford pharmacist Darnell Demorris Jones was as an advocate and activist for transgender people in transition. He served as vice president of the Gender Identity Network Alliance and co-founded the group Transcend the Binary. For his outreach work, Jones received the Outstanding Ally Award from Affirmations in 2014.
Oakland County Times, June 30, 2016