Kevin Rogers

Kevin Rogers pic

April 1, 1957 – January 4, 2015

Kevin James Rogers was born and grew up in Clinton Township in Macomb County.  He resided in Lincoln Park and Detroit before moving to Ferndale, where he co-chaired Keep Our Human Rights, a group formed to combat a ballot campaign to rescind Ferndale’s newly enacted non-discrimination ordinance in 1999.  Rogers owned and operated Just 4 Us in Ferndale from 2004 until his death.

Between The Lines, January 15, 2015

Judy Freespirit

Judy Freespirit poc

April 3, 1936 – September 10, 2010

Born in Detroit, poet, activist, and educator Judy Freespirit studied drama and speech at Michigan State University.  After being heterosexually married, she came out in the feminist movement in California.  In 1973, Freespirit coauthored the Fat Liberation Manifesto and in 1978 helped defeat the Briggs’ Initiative.  Among her other publications was the 1982 chapbook Daddy’s Girl: An Incest Survivor’s Story.

The Reporter, December 2010

In Memory: Poet, Essayist, Activist Judy Freespirit

Judy Freespirit papers at the GLBT Historical Society

Chet Sampson

Chet Sampson pic

October 15, 1916 – October 2, 2010

Chester James “Chet” Sampson of Los Angeles was born in Hubbell and attended Michigan Tech before transferring to the University of Michigan.  During World War II he produced variety shows in the U.S. Navy.  He later taught high school in Grosse Pointe before opening his own travel agency.  In 1965, he founded ONE in Detroit, only the second formal homosexual organization in Michigan.

Grosse Pointe News, November 4, 2010

David Blair

David Blair pic 2

September 19, 1967 – July 23, 2011

David Blair, better known as Blair, was born in Newton, New Jersey and moved to Detroit in the 1990s.  He achieved national recognition as an openly queer socialist poet, artist, singer-song writer, and activist.  Blair also taught poetry to Detroit Public School students and at the Ruth Ellis Center.  Among his many achievements were a National Poetry Slam title and the BENT Writing Institute Mentor Award.

Between The Lines, July 28, 2011

Metro Times, August 3, 2011

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

Jim Knox

Jim Knox pic

September 22, 1946 – June 27, 2011

A dedicated and influential figure in Kalamazoo’s LGBTQ community, Jim Knox was co-founder in 1985 of Community AIDS Resource and Education Services and co-founder in 1987 of the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, later renamed OutFront Kalamazoo.  Knox was also a longtime employee of the Barn Theatre in Augusta.

Between The Lines, July 7, 2011

Kalamazoo Gazette, July 8, 2011

Hal Lawson

Hal Lawson pic

January 28, 1925 – June 21, 2003

Hal Lawson, a graduate of Wayne State University, was founding chair from 1958 to 1960 of the Detroit Area Council of the Mattachine Society, the first known organization for homosexuals in Michigan.  He was later involved in ONE in Detroit, the Association of Suburban People, the Michigan Organization for Human Rights, the Unitarian-Universalist Gay Caucus, and Dignity/Flint.

Between The Lines, July 17, 2003