Frederick Weston

December 9, 1946 – October 21, 2020

Born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised by his mother in Detroit, Frederick Weston attended the High School of Commerce and went on to earn his Bachelor’s from Ferris State.  In his 20s, he moved to New York, where he worked low-paying jobs while relishing the gay scene and creating an array of visual arts.  A long-term survivor of AIDS, Weston gained recognition for his artistic genius only late in life.

POZ, October 29, 2020

New York Times, November 18, 2020

Clifford Kelley

Clifford Kelley pic

September 28, 1937 – September 2, 1985

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Clifford William Kelley worked as a regional sale representative for Detroit Edison and was involved in Wayne County politics.  While separated from his wife, he was found murdered in his Royal Oak apartment.  Known as “John” in the gay world, Kelley was last seen leaving an adult bookstore near Woodward and Six Mile in Detroit with another male.

Detroit Free Press, September 6, 1985

Cruise, November 13, 1985

Kelli Hand

Kelli Hand pic

September 15, 1964 – August 3, 2021

Kelli Maria Hand, known professionally as K-Hand, grew up in Detroit where she attended Henry Ford High School.  In the 1980s, she discovered the dance scene at the Paradise Garage nightclub in New York and became hooked on the music.  Before long she landed gigs as a DJ, including at the Detroit gay venue Zipper’s, and came to achieve international acclaim as the “first lady of Detroit techno.”

Between The Lines [online only], August 5, 2021

New York Times, August 9, 2021

Remembering Detroit Techno Trailblazer Kelli Hand

Damon Williams

Damon Williams pic

February 2, 1968 – January 1, 2022

Damon Michael Williams was born in Flint and graduated with the class of 1986 from Grand Blanc High School.  He relocated to Columbus where he attended Ohio State University.  At the time of his death, Williams worked as Educational Coordinator for OhioHealth.  He was preceded in death by his mother.  Survivors included his father, his siblings, and his boyfriend Ricky.

Lawrence E. Moon Funeral Home

Darnell Clark

Darnell Clark pic

October 10, 1951 – February 10, 2010

Born in Lansing, Darnell Austin Clark graduated from Everett Hight School in 1970 and as a youth performed with the Suitcase Theater on two tours in Europe.  He was later employed with Oldsmobile as a purchasing technician for more than 30 years.  Clark died at age 58 of complications from diabetes and was survived by his life partner John McGarey.

Lansing State Journal, February 18, 2010

Joseph James

Joseph James pic 2

March 27, 1950 – March 17, 2006

James Stewart James was born in Detroit and graduated with the class of 1969 from Mumford High School.  He later earned his Associates degree from Oakland Community College and was employed at General Motors for 25 years.  James was active in Men of Color, Project Survival, and Detroit Black Gay Pride, for many years helping to plan the annual Hotter Than July! picnic in Palmer Park.

Between The Lines, March 30, 2006

Jim Toy

Jim Toy pic

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

Treva Bass

Treva Bass pic

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

Virlena Reed

Virlena Reed pic

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

David Hutchinson

David Hutchinson pic

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