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
October 12, 1961 – March 8, 1995
Native Detroiter Gary Patterson graduated from Cass Tech High School in 1979 and earned his B.A. in psychology from Kalamazoo College in 1984. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, Africa, Patterson worked as a counselor and educator for AIDS Care Connection and pursued a degree from Unity Union Ministerial School of Detroit. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 33.
Between The Lines, April 1995
October 26, 1957 – December 19, 2003
Activist and Joliet, Illinois native Billy Wayne Herrod Jr. began his career in retail following community college and moved to Detroit in 1996 as a manager for Sam’s Club. He served on the board for Kick!, predecessor to LGBT Detroit, and as a member of the Detroit Black Gay Pride board helped to organize the annual Hotter Than July in the early 2000s.
Between The Lines, January 8, 2004
April 19, 1964 – March 23, 2020
Writer and artists 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
October 1, 1983 – February 21, 2003
Southfield resident Nikki Nicholas, an entertainer in Detroit gay bars, was found slain at age 19 in what the Triangle Foundation identified as an anti-trans hate crime in an abandoned house in Green Oak Township. The Washtenaw Rainbow Action Project held a candlelight vigil in her memory and the National Association for the Advancement of Transgender People later marched in Lansing in her honor.
Between The Lines, March 6, 2003
The Final Assault on Nikki
August 18, 1972 – December 19, 1994
Adrian Travelle Davis of Detroit performed at the Peach Bowl with his middle school band and later directed the Murray Wright High School band and the a cappella quartet Gifted. Davis graduated from Cody High School in 1994 with plans to attend Ferris State University. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 22.
Detroit Free Press, December 22, 1994
August 12, 1958 – July 25, 2016
Theresa Mary Guillean of Bloomfield Hills graduated with the Pontiac Catholic High School class of 1976. She went on to earn her B.S. in 1990 from Oakland University and devoted herself to social work. Guillean and her wife Lori Klein Shapiro were among more than 300 couples issued marriage licenses on March 22, 2014 after a federal judge overturned Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home