April 15, 1951 – February 3, 2021
Gregory Charles Piazza moved to Detroit from Wisconsin to attend Wayne State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s in speech. He soon became enmeshed in local gay culture and in 1974 moved into the Palmer Park apartment district. His research was instrumental in having the neighborhood added to the National Register of Historic Places. Piazza was also long active in the leather club Tribe.
Between The Lines, February 11, 2021 [online only]
April 16, 1960 – January 4, 2018
Lesbian writer, filmmaker, and punk musician Rayya Mokdessy Elias was born in Syria, grew up in Metro Detroit, and graduated from Center Line High School. She moved to New York in the 1980s, returning intermittently to Michigan, living in Warren and Royal Oak. Elias directed the film shorts Anonymous and Lunchroom and authored the memoir Harley Loco. She was survived by Elizabeth Gilbert.
The Cut, January 5, 2018
The Alpha Wolf
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
January 23, 1993 – June 28, 2013
A native of the state of Wyoming, Krisen Grace Lison of Charlotte graduated from Manchester High School in Manchester in 2011. She went on to attend Michigan State University, where she was involved with the campus LGBT community. Lison was studying writing and authored three books of poetry and short stories. Her fiancé Dalton Strong was among her survivors.
Lansing State Journal, June 30, 2013
October 17, 1951 – July 23, 2012
Hailing from Oklahoma, Christopher Towne Leland earned degrees at Pomona College and UC San Diego before moving from California to Detroit’s Indian Village. He taught at Wayne State University as a professor of English from 1990 until his death and authored ten books, including five novels. He was survived by his partner of 33 years Osvaldo Sabino.
Detroit News, July 29, 2012
A.L. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors
July 23, 1940 – September 8, 2010
Susan Sanborn North of Troy was born in New Hampshire and graduated from Hunter College in New York. She worked as a computer programmer, author, and financial planner, and in the latter career advised bequests to numerous LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations in Metro Detroit. North was active with both Affirmations and the Triangle Foundation.
Between The Lines, September 23, 2010
April 19, 1964 – March 23, 2020
Writer and artist Brent Dorian Carpenter was born in Detroit and graduated from Cass Tech in 1981. His entrée into Detroit’s African American LGBTQ community came in 2001 when he approached Hotter Than July planners to promote his first novel, Man of the Cloth. Carpenter became and AIDS activist and he worked as a reporter and regular columnist for Between The Lines before moving to Atlanta in 2006.
Between The Lines, April 16, 2020
April 15, 1964 – July 23, 2018
Jenifer Anne Kohout grew up on Air Force bases throughout the U.S. and overseas. After finishing her Bachelor’s at Duke, she earned an M.S. in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from the UM Law School. In the 1990s, Kohout was an occasional columnist for Between The Lines. She later enjoyed a rich career in Alaska. Kohout was survived by her spouse Karen Komopacki.
Washington Post, August 7, 2018
May 1, 1923 – January 11, 1986
In the early 1940s, Frederick Strowan Robertson attended the University of Michigan, where he roomed with W.H. Auden’s lover Chester Kallman. Robertson finished his B.A. at the University of British Columbia then returned to Ann Arbor to earn his M.A. at UM. He was active in community theater and gay social circles there in the 1950s. In later life, he worked for the National Film Board of Canada.
Montreal Gazette, January 22, 1986
June 8, 1923 – February 27, 2015
Nationally renowned Episcopal priest, civil rights activist, and author Rev. Malcolm Boyd made headlines in the mid-1970s when he came out as gay. During the early 1960s, he served as chaplain at Wayne State University in Detroit. His many books included Take Off the Masks and Gay Priest: An Inner Journey. Boyd was survived by his husband Mark Thompson.
New York Times, March 2, 2015
Between The Lines, March 12, 2015
Malcolm Boyd Papers at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center