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

Treva Bass

Treva Bass pic

July 31, 1955 – November 8, 2021

Bloomfield Hills resident and Detroit native Treva Bell Bass graduated from Cass Tech High School and pursued acting in Los Angeles.  On returning to Detroit, Bass attended Specs Howard University and became a chief engineer with her family’s radio stations.  Bass and June Washington, her partner of 33 years, gave generously to Affirmations, the Ruth Ellis Center, Hotter Than July, and other causes.

Between The Lines, November 25, 2021

Kurt Tamm

October 26, 1966 – December 21, 2007

Born in Los Angeles, Kurt Andrew Tamm went to Bentley High School in Livonia.  He later tended bar at Backstreet in Detroit and Cobalt in Ferndale.  In his last years, Tamm made a home in Puerto Rico.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 41.

Between The Lines, January 17, 2008

Wilfred Thompson

Wilfred Thompson pic

May 10, 1929 – December 15, 1986

Wilfred Zinow Thompson was born in Hamtramck, went to Pershing High School in Detroit, attended the University of Michigan in the early 1950s, and earned his B.A. in liberal arts from Wayne State University in 1958.  For a time, Thompson was affiliated with writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten and was an antiques dealer by trade.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 58.

Detroit Free Press, May 10, 1987

Bruce Allen

Bruce Allen pic

March 3, 1945 – December 6, 1992

Native Detroiter Bruce Leonard Allen attended Lutheran West High School.  He was a member of Tribe and a co-founder of Baccus and worked as a bartender at the R&R, the E-Ramp, and Ruby’s.  Allen also performed as Tracy Daye, notably as a member of the house cast at Gigi’s, receiving the Performers Awards of Detroit Lifetime Achievement in 1992.  He died from AIDS-related complications at age 47.

Cruise, December 16, 1992

Sue Brooks

Sue Brooks pic

January 17, 1947 – December 16, 2020

Lathrup Village resident Susan Catherine Brooks moved to Michigan from Pennsylvania in the 1970s.  She earned her M.A. from Central Michigan, and worked for various Girl Scouts councils, the YWCA in Flint, and the YMCA in Detroit.  Brooks was also involved in the early lesbian organization Moonrise and with Paws with a Cause.  Her partners Martha Charles and Kathryn Wright preceded her in death.

No known obituary