Joseph James

Joseph James pic 2

March 27, 1950 – March 17, 2006

James Stewart James was born in Detroit and graduated with the class of 1969 from Mumford High School.  He later earned his Associates degree from Oakland Community College and was employed at General Motors for 25 years.  James was active in Men of Color, Project Survival, and Detroit Black Gay Pride, for many years helping to plan the annual Hotter Than July! picnic in Palmer Park.

Between The Lines, March 30, 2006

Barbara Grier

Barbara Grier pic2

November 4, 1933 – November 10, 2011

Born in Ohio, pioneering publisher Barbara Glycine Grier spent much of her childhood in Detroit and attended ninth grade at Highland Park Community High School.  She came to understand herself as lesbian as a teenager after requesting books on homosexuality at the Detroit Public Library.  Grier went on to edit the magazine The Ladder and to co-found the Naiad Press with her partner Donna McBride.

New York Times, November 13, 2011

Lesbian Herstory Archives oral history of Barbara Grier

Barbara Grier-Naiad Press Collection at the San Francisco Public Library

Carmah Lawler

Carmah Lawler pic

January 21, 1929 – March 14, 2020

A native of Toledo, Ohio and graduate of Bowling Green State, Carmah Ann Lawler earned her MSW from the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan in 1954.  She enjoyed a rich career, retiring from Jefferson County Public Schools in Colorado, and was also a longtime supporter of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change.  Lawler was preceded in death by her life partner of 36 years Kathryn Glass.

OLOC E-News, April 2020

Jim Toy

Jim Toy pic

April 29, 1930 – January 1, 2022

Denison University graduate James Willis Toy moved to Detroit in the late 1950s to become a church organist.  In 1970, he helped co-found the Detroit Gay Liberation Front and the Ann Arbor GLF.  A year and a half later co-founded the Human Sexuality Office at the University of Michigan, where he earned his MSW in 1981.  Toy’s activism and achievements for Michigan’s LGBTQ community are unparalleled.

Between The Lines, January 13, 2022

James W. Toy papers at the Bentley Historical Library

Dale Cramton

Dale Cramton obit

November 15, 1953 – October 24, 1991

Dale Allen Cramton grew up in Jackson and graduated from Parkside High School.  As a first-year college student, he was founder of the Gay Liberation Front at Central Michigan University in September 1971.  Cramton later moved to Los Angeles where he made a life for himself as an artist.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 37.

Jackson Citizen-Patriot, October 26, 1991

Rachael Jackson

Rachael Two-Spirit Jackson pic

May 13, 1953 – February 16, 2018

White Lake resident and transgender activist Rachael Stephaine Two-Spirit Jackson had a 47-year career in flexographic printing and was employed at the FSI Label Company in Roseville.  She was active in Affirmations and PFLAG Plymouth-Canton, as well as the Native American community, serving on the board for American Indian Services, Inc.  Jackson was survived by her wife Marie.

O’Brien & Sullivan Memorial Services

Jim Nickoff

Jim Nickoff pic

September 15, 1963 – December 16, 2007

Lansing native James Michael Nickoff was kicked out of his home at age 15.  He survived on dishwashing jobs and worked his way through college, earning his B.A. in accounting at Michigan State, where he was active in the Lesbian-Gay Council.  After he moved to San Francisco, he served on the founding board of Equality California and married his partner Dave Lawson in 2004.  Nickoff took his own life at age 44.

Bay Area Reporter, December 27, 2007

Billi Gordon

Billi Gordon pic

September 2, 1954 – February 22, 2018

Wilbert Anthony “Billi” Gordon Jr. graduated from Union High School in Dowagiac, class of 1972.  He left seminary to attend the University of Michigan, where he became involved in gay activism, including as spokesperson for the Ann Arbor Black Gay Caucus.  Gordon went on to become a celebrated model, entertainer, writer, and neuroscientist.  He was survived by his spouse of 30 years Robert Schallert.

Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2018

Clif Levin

Clif Levin pic

November 17, 1947 – July 9, 2019

Clifford Alan “Clif” Levin graduated with the class of 1965 from Oak Park High School, earned his B.A. at Wayne State, and went on to receive his law degree there.  In 1973 he began a 30-year career with the Wayne County Friend of the Court.  Lemon served on the boards of the Triangle Foundation and the Detroit Together Men’s Chorus.  He was also active in community theater in Grosse Pointe.

Between The Lines, July 25, 2019

Bill Galligan

Bill Galligan pic 2

September 13, 1945 – November 26, 2019

William “Bill” Galligan Jr. grew up in a Chicago suburb and earned his Bachelor’s at Western Michigan University.  Following a career as an educator, Galligan moved to Saugatuck, where he became a beloved retailer, operating the Old Post Office Shop and later Spice Crazy Cottage.  He was active in efforts to  enact a gay rights ordinance in the late 1990s and was also a strong supporter of local arts.

Commercial Record, December 5, 2019