April 29, 1930 – January 1, 2022
Denison University graduate James Willis Toy moved to Detroit in the late 1950s to become a church organist. In 1970, he helped co-found the Detroit Gay Liberation Front and the Ann Arbor GLF. A year and a half later co-founded the Human Sexuality Office at the University of Michigan, where he earned his MSW in 1981. Toy’s activism and achievements for Michigan’s LGBTQ community are unparalleled.
Between The Lines, January 13, 2022
James W. Toy papers at the Bentley Historical Library
July 31, 1955 – November 8, 2021
Bloomfield Hills resident and Detroit native Treva Bell Bass graduated from Cass Tech High School and pursued acting in Los Angeles. On returning to Detroit, Bass attended Specs Howard University and became a chief engineer with her family’s radio stations. Bass and June Washington, her partner of 33 years, gave generously to Affirmations, the Ruth Ellis Center, Hotter Than July, and other causes.
Between The Lines, November 25, 2021
November 8, 1971 – November 27, 2016
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Virlena Cerese Reed of Ann Arbor, previously of Ypsilanti, graduated from Belleville High School and attended Washtenaw Community College. She earned her Bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan University in 2000 and worked as a case manager as well as an artist. Reed was survived by her son Christopher Fitzner-Reed and her co-parenting partner Melinda Fitzner.
Ann Arbor News, November 30, 2016
July 9, 1992 – May 16, 2021
Born in Missouri, Ann Arbor resident David Lawrence Hutchinson grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and earned his B.A. from Truman State University. He went on to pursue his doctorate in history at the University of Michigan where his research interests included the Black diaspora, African American intellectual history, and queer studied. Hutchinson was killed in an automobile accident at age 28.
Thatcher’s Funeral Home
June 26, 1947 – December 7, 2010
Michael David Scott was born in Lansing and graduated from Central High School in Kalamazoo in 1966. He later worked as a chef in Lansing and at Michigan State University. Scott was a noted local drag performer and in June 1972 won the Miss Capital City title at a pageant held at Joe Covello’s. Days later he led the first-ever Pride parade down Woodward in Detroit and sang at the rally in Kennedy Square.
Lansing State Journal, December 13, 2010
November 9, 1956 – December 16, 2020
Patricia Mae Woods, known to loved ones as “Patty Cakes,” was born in Detroit and graduated with the class of 1974 from Central High School. She attended the Michigan Barber School and worked in area nursing homes before going into business owning and operating Woods Home Improvement. For many years Woods attended Full Truth Fellowship Church.
O.H. Pye III Funeral Home
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
June 20, 1965 – June 18, 1995
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Eric Leroy Jordan moved to Detroit following high school and became active in Men of Color, Full Truth Fellowship Church, and the James Baldwin/Pat Parker Society. From 1993 to 1995, Jordan was employed as a case worker for the AIDS Consortium of Southeastern Michigan. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 29, two days shy of his 30th birthday.
Between The Lines, July 1995
June 2, 1917 – March 23, 2009
LeRoy Raymond Scott was born in Detroit, graduated from Cass Tech, and attended Wayne State. For three decades he resided in New York, where his drag persona Madame X was photographed by Diane Arbus. After returning to Michigan, he became active in Unlimited Seniors and Black and White Men Together. Metro Detroit’s LGBT community honored Scott with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
Between The Lines, March 26, 2009
June 9, 1969 – November 15, 2020
An early member of the House of Chanel, Jennifer Holiday Chanel graduated with the class of 1987 from Flint Central High School and went on to attend Eastern Michigan University. She performed at the Nectarine in Ann Arbor, later worked at Gigi’s in Detroit, and won the Miss Gigi’s title in 1997. The Performers Awards of Detroit honored Chanel with its Bookie Stewart Hall of Fame Award in 2017.
Between The Lines [online only], November 19, 2020