September 23, 1948 – August 7, 2012
Kalamazoo nutritionist Diana Zhenhua Artz-Iffland earned her B.S. from Western Michigan University and her M.S. from Michigan State University. She was a longtime member of the People’s Church and, with her life partner River Artz-Iffland, was active in the pioneering local lesbian organization Lavender Morning. For 18 years the couple operated Pandora’s Books for Open Minds.
January 22, 1940 – December 18, 2001
Jack Birkinsha of Byron Center was a Kansas native, earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and retired from the Great American Life Insurance Company. As an attorney in Detroit in the late 1970s, Birkinsha served as a trustee for the monthly paper Metro Gay News and, as a member of the Committee for Gay Rights, helped push for the city’s Omnibus Human Rights Ordinance.
St. Joseph News-Press, December 25, 2001
August 1, 1952 – August 3, 2019
Originally from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Diane Boulais resided in Ludington with her wife Ann Schrader, who she met in 2001 while attending People’s Church. Her worked variously as a surgical technician, an organic farmer, and a dune buggy tour guide. Boulais also volunteered with West Michigan Community Mental Health, speaking against stigma and lobbying the Michigan legislature and the U.S. Congress.
Beacon Cremation & Funeral Service
May 10, 1945 – January 1, 2002
Colorado native and longtime Saginaw resident John Michael Monahan worked as a rehabilitation therapist. During the 1980s, he became active in the Michigan Organization for Human Rights and in 1990 co-founded the Triangle Foundation and served as its president. Following a heart transplant in 1993, Monahan moved to Detroit to engage in activism full time.
Between The Lines, January 10, 2002
Saginaw News, January 16, 2002
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
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
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