Virginia Szymanski

Virginia Szymanski pic

March 14, 1927 – August 23, 2013

A suburban housewife and mother, Virginia Dolores Szymanski inherited the Royal Show Bar from her step-father in the early 1960s.  While she owned and operated the Detroit bar, it became a popular gathering place for black sissies, black gay men, and black drag queens.

A.H. Peters Funeral Home

William Karagas

William Karagas pic

May 10, 1919 – December 25, 1995

A native of Philadelphia, William Angel Karagas served as a warrant officer during World War II.  Beginning in 1954, he was the heterosexual owner of Detroit’s Woodward Lounge, which he operated for more than forty years with his brothers Sam and Andy.

Detroit Free Press, January 2, 1996

Maryann Mahaffey

Maryann Mahaffey pic

January 18, 1925 – July 27, 2006

Longtime Detroit City Council president Maryann Mahaffey toured several gay bars on election eve during her first campaign for Council in 1973.  In the decades that followed, she never wavered in her support for the LGBTQ community, from helping include sexual orientation in the city’s human rights ordinance to opposing the Prop 2 initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the state constitution.

Between The Lines, August 3, 2006

Raymond Shepherd

Raymond Shepherd pic

August 3, 1948 – February 27, 2018

Former Ferndale resident Raymond Edward Shepherd was born in Detroit and studied at Oakland Community College and Lawrence Tech.  He worked as a computer programmer and analyst for various firms and was a deacon and longtime member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.  At the time of his death, Shepherd lived in a senior community in Hazel Park.

Between The Lines, March 15, 2018

Win Wells

Win Wells pic

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