April 5, 1939 – March 9, 2018
Robert Francis “Bobby” Schorle was an icon in the Grand Rapids gay community. Schorle was longtime co-owner of various bars, including the Carousel Lounge, Turn About, Carousel II, and the Cell. He was also instrumental in creating the local Queen of Hearts pageant. Born in Chicago, Schorle grew up on a fruit farm in Fennville and graduated from Fennville High School in 1957.
Chappell Funeral Home
October 8, 1947 – May 16, 1994
Born in Detroit, Carl Rippberger graduated from Denby High School and served a tour of duty in Vietnam as a U.S. Army draftee. He bar tended at Tiffany’s before acquiring the Escape Lounge, which he opened as Backstreet nightclub in 1979. Rippberger served as president of the Detroit Bar Guild and helped raise funds for Wellness House and Affirmations. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 46.
Detroit Free Press, May 19, 1994
Cruise, May 25, 1994
February 11, 1956 – April 8, 2014
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Victor Line was longtime co-owner with his life partner Robert Wiley of Tradewinds nightclub and Triangle World bookstore in Kalamazoo. Both were also strong supporters of what was then known as the Kalamazoo Gay/Lesbian Resource Center.
Kalamazoo Gazette, April 10, 2014
June 17, 1955 – June 27, 2005
Detroit native Regi Thompson worked as a party promoter before opening his own gay club, Regine’s Off the Park, in 1997 on the city’s east side. When a fire gutted the club, Thompson rebuilt and expanded the space into a premiere dance spot. He later renamed the bar the Palladium.
Between The Lines, June 30, 2005
September 16, 1927 – October 2, 2005
Union Lake resident Henry Charles Trent served in the U.S. military and operated Trent’s Prime Rib Beef Market in Detroit prior to opening Menjo’s in Detroit with Mike Crawford and Joe LaRosa. Trent also owned the Prudential Health Club in Detroit.
Detroit Free Press, October 4, 2005
March 14, 1927 – August 23, 2013
A suburban housewife and mother, Virginia Dolores Szymanski inherited the Royal Show Bar from her step-father in the early 1960s. While she owned and operated the Detroit bar, it became a popular gathering place for black sissies, black gay men, and black drag queens.
A.H. Peters Funeral Home
May 10, 1919 – December 25, 1995
A native of Philadelphia, William Angel Karagas served as a warrant officer during World War II. Beginning in 1954, he was the heterosexual owner of Detroit’s Woodward Lounge, which he operated for more than forty years with his brothers Sam and Andy.
Detroit Free Press, January 2, 1996