August 7, 1943 – February 28, 1991
Flint native William James Kain was a school teacher before entering the gay bar business. Kain worked as a manager at Stober’s Disco in Lansing and Sylvia’s Club Oasis in Flint in the mid-1970s before opening his own Flint bar the Downtowner’s Club, later renamed the Copa. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 47.
Flint Journal, March 2, 1991
Cruise, March 6, 1991
November 16, 1953 – November 16, 2004
Michael Sweazey of Canton and formerly of Garden City began bartending at Gigi’s in Detroit in the mid-1970s and was one of six employees to inherit ownership of the bar after the death of Tony Garneau. For many years he worked as Gigi’s show director and performed female impersonation under the name Vanessa LaSalle. Sweazey was survived by his life partner of 28 years Steven McAfee.
Between The Lines, December 2, 2004
April 23, 1917 – August 28, 1983
Harvey Blanchard grew up in Dexter and worked as a liquor store clerk and sales manager for a tombstone business before acquiring the Flame Bar in Ann Arbor in 1959. He went on to operate the Flame for 23 years.
Metra, September 15, 1983
October 9, 1955 – October 13, 1992
Alvin Keith Foster grew up in Taylor and Romulus, attending Christian schools before landing a job as an upholsterer for General Motors. After taking classes in floral design, he began working for Flowers by Sandino in Redford Township. In 1989, with Sandino Ciccarelli, Foster opened the Timesquare dance club in downtown Detroit. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 37.
Cruise, October 21, 1992
May 29, 1940 – April 18, 1994
Joseph LaRosa Jr. was born in Ann Arbor, graduated from Dexter High School, and attended Cleary Business School. In the early 1970s, LaRosa hosted Lillian’s Down Under in the lower level of Bookie’s Club 870 in Detroit. In December 1974, he, Michael Crawford, and Hank Trent opened the former supper club Menjo’s as a gay dance club. LaRosa later operated Orca’s before moving to Phoenix.
Dexter Leader, May 4, 1994
January 8, 1949 – July 24, 2017
Onetime Windsor resident and Chrysler employee, Garnet “Bill” Beetham was owner of the Male Box in Detroit and Male Box II in Warren. He supported the Metro Detroit Softball League and numerous other gay causes in the Metro Area.
OutPost, August 2017
Kaul Funeral Home Dignity Memorial
November 3, 1924 – November 26, 2000
Born in Detroit, Leonard Lippert was raised in Essex, Ontario and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Following a long career with Manufacturer’s Bank, Lippert and his life partner operated the Hayloft on Greenfield in Detroit from 1981 to 1997.
Between The Lines, December 14, 2000