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

Christine Johnson

Christine Johnson pic

July 13, 1951 – January 23, 2015

Activist, artist, and entrepreneur owner Christine Johnson was born in Cincinnati and moved to Chicago, where she co-founded the Metis Press Collective, a lesbian feminist publisher.  She met her life partner of 34 years Nancy Poore in 1981 and the two later moved to west Michigan.  The couple rented vacation cottages and operated a kayak rental business.

Grand Rapids Press, January 27, 2015

Lesbian Connection, May/June 2015

Nancy Poore & Chris Johnson video interview at Chicago Gay History

Deon Jackson

Deon Jackson pic 2

March 2, 1979 – April 11, 2018

Flint native Deuntia “Deon” Jackson earned his mortuary science degree from Gupton Jones College in Atlanta and worked as a mortician in Michigan and several other states.  He performed as DJ Envi, helped establish the Safe Space drop-in center for LGBTQ youth at Wellness Services and in 2011 co-founded the Flint Gay Pride celebration.  Jackson was survived by his husband Casio Flood.

Sheldon T. Banks Funeral Chapel

Sandra Cole

Sandra Cole pic

September 17, 1937 – May 15, 2017

Noted sexologist Sandra Cole founded the Comprehensive Gender Identity Program at the University of Michigan in 1993 and served as its director until retiring in 2000.  She was also a longtime advocate for transgender legal and civil rights, and helped secure gender identity as a protected category in the UM bylaws and Ann Arbor’s human rights ordinance.

Ann Arbor News, June 23, 2017

Sandra S. Cole papers at the Bentley Historical Library

Connie McConnohie

Connie McConnohie pic

September 14, 1944 – June 24, 2005

Born in Los Angeles, Connie McConnohie moved to Detroit in the early1970s where she worked for the city’s department of social services and became involved in gay lib politics.  After a split with the Detroit Gay Activists, McConnohie formed the Motor City Alliance of Gays and published Gayzette, a short-lived local gay newspaper.  In 1973, she ran as an open lesbian for a city council seat, losing in the primary.

Detroit Free Press, April 18, 2006

Connie McConnohie remembrance by East Side Republican Club

Jim Klinesteker

Jim Klinesteker pic

October 7, 1957 – September 13, 1992

James Klinesteker was a zookeeper at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids and a prominent leader in the city’s gay and lesbian community.  After attending the 1987 March on Washington, he became one of the founders of The Network and as its president helped open its community center in 1991.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 35.

Network newsletter, October 1992

Harry Kevorkian

Harry Kevorkian pic

August 7, 1947 – February 3, 2002

Originally from Waterford, Harry “Kitty” Kevorkian became involved in the Gay Liberation Front in Ann Arbor during in the early 1970s.  He, took part in numerous protests, once crashing an event donned in skag drag at the home of the president of the University of Michigan.  Kevorkian was a candidate for the city’s mayor in 1974 and later headed the bus union during a 42-day walkout.

Between The Lines, February 21, 2002