April 3, 1933 – December 6, 1983
Originally from Arkansas, Winfred Wells was raised in Detroit and in the 1950s became a noted local beatnik poet. In the 1960s he performed female impersonation under his own name at the Diplomat Lounge. Wells subsequently moved to England, where he wrote screenplays and lived with his longtime companion, director Silvio Narizzano.
London Times, December 8, 1983
April 26, 1955 – September 27, 1991
Born in Detroit, Wilmer Gunther Jr. worked for many years at the Deck in Detroit and performed locally as Hummin Helen. Gunther also worked as a floral designer. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 36.
Metra, October 9, 1991
March 23, 1921 – June 12, 2018
Detroit native Gilbert Hart Whelden Jr. attended Cranbrook Academy and Olivet College before serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He later graduated from Michigan State University and worked as an interior designer for J.L. Hudson. He was also a member of the Forum Foundation and Unlimited Seniors. In retirement, Whelden shared a home in Leland with his partner Paul Kieren.
Leelanau Enterprise, June 21,2018
September 2, 1941 – April 20, 1992
Detroit native and onetime resident of Dallas, Texas, Sharon Piazza worked as a bouncer at Menjo’s in Detroit and performed in local community theater.
This Week in Texas, May 1, 1992
October 24, 1927 – July 6, 1961
Born in Detroit, William John Cornell attended Wayne University and, as one of city’s premier theatrical press agents in the 1950s, represented various stars when they visited the Motor City, including Ethel Merman and Marlena Dietrich. Cornell and his partner Peter Prass were killed when a fire gutted their Chicago Boulevard apartment.
Detroit Free Press, July 7, 1961
May 23, 1995 – August 8, 2015
According to Detroit police, 20-year-old Amber Monroe was engaged in sex work In August 2015 when she was shot and killed near Six Mile and Woodward. She was the twelfth trans woman of color murdered in the U.S. that year. Monroe attended Oak Park High School, studied at Wayne State, and was a familiar face at the Ruth Ellis Center.
Between The Lines, August 20, 2015
September 23, 1936 – November 10, 2016
David Adamany served as president of Wayne State University from 1982 to 1997. A native of Janesville, Wisconsin, he earned his B.A. and J.D. from Harvard and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. During his tenure at the helm of Wayne, he remained discrete about being gay. His sexuality was an open secret, however, and behind the scenes Adamany lent his support to various LGBT causes.
Between The Lines, November 24, 2016