Babe Franklin

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November 25, 1909 – December 12, 1973

A native of Springfield, Illinois, Cicilene “Babe” Franklin worked as a cook and co-operated Ellis and Franklin Printing with her longtime partner Ruth Ellis, with whom she also co-hosted house parties that added vitality to Detroit’s black LGBTQ life in the 1940s and ‘50s.

No known obituary.

C. Bruce Lee

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November 16, 1921 – August 10, 2015

C. Bruce Lee served with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, after which he earned an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and later held a high-level position with the federal government. He appeared in the documentary film Coming Out Under Fire.

Memorial website for C. Bruce Lee

Beth Brant

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May 6, 1941 – August 6, 2015

Born in Detroit of Mohawk heritage, Beth Brant was a poet, essayist, and author whose writings bridged multiple identities.  Her publications include Mohawk Trail and Testimony from the Faithful.

What Remains: Remembering Michelle Cliff, Beth Brant, and Stephania Byrd

Remembering Beth Brant

Christopher Andrew Leinonen

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June 1, 1984 – June 12, 2016

Detroit native Christopher Andrew “Drew” Leinonen moved to Florida just before high school and made a career as a psychologist.  He was killed in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016 at age 32.

Between The Lines, June 30, 2016

Shelley Hilliard

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Died October 23, 2011

Michelle Hilliard, a 19-year-old trans sex worker who enjoyed photography and music, was slain in Detroit in the early morning hours of October 23, 2011.

Between The Lines, November 17, 2011

Between The Lines, December 8, 2011

Trailer for Treasure: From Tragedy to Trans Justice, Mapping a Detroit Story

Ken Dudley

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November 3, 1946 – April 28, 1991

A graduate of Wayne State University, Kenneth T. Dudley was a pioneering activist with the Detroit Gay Liberation Front and speaker at the city’s first pride march and rally in 1972.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.

No known obituary.

Ruth Ellis

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July 23, 1899 – October 12, 2000

Elder and matriarch Ruth Ellis hosted house parties with her partner Babe Franklin in their Oakland Street home during the 1940s and ’50s, giving sanctuary to LGBTQ African American Detroiters who were often excluded from the city’s gay bars.

Between The Lines, October 12, 2000

Ruth Ellis papers at the Bentley Historical Library

Trailer for Living with Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100