January 9, 1949 – February 19, 1996
Known as the Godfather of House, legendary DJ Ken Collier spun music around Detroit for more than 30 years at such gay clubs as Bookie’s Club 870, Heaven, Todd’s, the Chessmate, and L’uomo. His skill with the turntable inspired a new generation of DJs and helped put Detroit’s dance scene on the global musical map.
Metra, February 28, 1996
MetroTimes, May 15-21, 1996
August 22, 1945 – November 17, 1993
Wyandotte resident Gay Whiteside formed a chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis in Detroit in 1971. She was also active with the Gay Radio Collective and a longtime member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.
Detroit Free Press, November 19, 1993
July 29, 1912 – March 1, 1976
For more than three decades, Danny Brown directed the Jewel Box Revue. Prior to establishing the famed touring company, Brown emceed female impersonation shows at the Club Frontenac in Detroit during the pansy craze of the 1930s.
Drag, volume 6, number 21, 1976
May 17, 1915 – May 16, 1996
The daughter of a coal miner, Olga Madar earned a degree in physical education from Eastern Michigan University and rose to become the first woman on the board of the United Auto Workers in 1966 and an international vice president of the union in 1970. Madar resided in Detroit’s Indian Village.
New York Times, May 18, 1996
April 29, 1931 – October 29, 1990
A onetime executive assistant with the Joffrey Ballet, Christopher Flynn operated a private dance studio in Rochester in the early 1970s and introduced his student and future superstar Madonna to gay nightlife at Menjo’s. In 1977, Flynn served as a founding officer of the Michigan Organization for Human Rights.
Cruise, November 7, 1990
Ten Percent, January 1-14, 1991
September 16, 1942 – June 18, 1993
Raised in Tacoma, Washington, Barry Joseph “Biejay” Brewitt served in the Army Medical Corps, attended the University of Detroit and Wayne State University, and worked for Westin Hotels. He was a founder and longtime officer in the early Detroit leather group Tribe. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 50.
Tacoma News Tribune, July 1, 1993
March 1, 1990 – Body found July 14, 2015
Detroiter Ashton O’Hara, also known as Jessica Storm, identified as trans and genderfluid, loved to dance, and enjoyed styling hair. The 25-year-old’s death in July 2015 marked the 14th murder of a transgender person in the U.S. that year.
Between The Lines, August 20, 2015