Gregory Williams

Gregory Williams pic

April 22, 1948 – December 18, 1978

Muskegon native Gregory Don Williams graduated with the class of 1966 from Muskegon Catholic High School and subsequently attended Michigan State University and Wayne State University.  In June 1972, he took part in Michigan’s first-ever pride celebration in Detroit.  At the time of his death, he was employed with a Wall Street brokerage firm in New York.

Muskegon Chronicle, December 20, 1978

Evelyn Fisher

Evelyn Fischer pic

April 4, 1941 – December 29, 2020

Evelyn Joseph Fisher attended the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods and earned her M.D. from the Wayne State University Medical School.  As senior specialist for infectious disease at Henry Ford Hospital, Fisher saw her first patient with AIDS in 1982.  A year later Fisher was instrumental in helping to found Wellness Networks to serve the needs of people with HIV in southeast Michigan.

Detroit News, January 16, 2021

Between The Lines, February 4, 2021

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

Craig Economy

Craig Economy pic

September 17, 1952 – November 2, 1996

Detroit resident Craig Economy grew up in Dearborn, attended Dearborn High School, and pursued studies in Vermont and Arizona.  On returning to Michigan, he worked as a popular hairdresser at Jacobsen’s and other salons.  A longtime survivor of HIV, Economy was active in Friends Alliance, the AIDS Interfaith Network, and other organizations.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 47.

Cruise, November 20, 1996

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

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

Barbara Grier

Barbara Grier pic2

November 4, 1933 – November 10, 2011

Born in Ohio, pioneering publisher Barbara Glycine Grier spent much of her childhood in Detroit and attended ninth grade at Highland Park Community High School.  She came to understand herself as lesbian as a teenager after requesting books on homosexuality at the Detroit Public Library.  Grier went on to edit the magazine The Ladder and to co-found the Naiad Press with her partner Donna McBride.

New York Times, November 13, 2011

Lesbian Herstory Archives oral history of Barbara Grier

Barbara Grier-Naiad Press Collection at the San Francisco Public Library

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

Fred Flett

August 2, 1882 – March 25, 1959

Frederick Arthur Flett was born in Petrolia, Ontario and immigrated to the U.S. in 1900.  He earned his dental degree from the Detroit College of Medicine and practiced dentistry for the next 50 years.  Flett was the sole participant whose identity is known of an unsuccessful attempt to launch an affiliate of the Mattachine Society in Detroit in 1954, four years before a local chapter was finally established.

No known obituary

Tony Rome

Tony Rome pic

November 19, 1936 – April 29, 2021

Klaus Reich, better known to gay Metro Detroiters by Tony Rome, was born in Berlin, Germany and immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-1950s.  After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he began an aircraft servicing business in Ypsilanti.  He later operated Foof’s Down Under downstairs at Gigi’s nightclub in Detroit.  From 1979 to 1999, Rome published Cruise magazine before retiring to warmer climates.

Desert Sun, May 13, 2021