March 13, 1931 – April 20, 2015
Marvin Phillip Marks of Southfield started his own accounting firm in the early 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, he held leadership positions in numerous local gay organizations, including Dignity/Detroit, the Motor City Business Forum, the Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Council, the Forum Foundation, and Wellness Networks. Marks received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Pride Banquet in 2009.
Between The Lines, April 23, 2015
Marvin P. Marks Papers at the Reuther Library
December 12, 1958 – July 27, 2018
Dexter resident Michele Lee Donnelly was born in Detroit and graduated with the class of 1976 from Redford Union High School. She enjoyed camping on Lake Michigan and watching Tiger Baseball and was a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor. Donnelly and her wife Sherry Smith were together 30 years.
Ann Arbor News, August 1, 2018
August 6, 1940 – December 29, 1990
Bruce Dettloff started his gay bar career as a waiter at the Conquest Lounge in Detroit, rising to the position of manager and rechristening it Blue Boy. In 1975, he opened the Gold Coast Saloon and later operated Applause. He also helped establish the BTI Bowling League and was co-founder of the Detroit Bar Guild. Dettloff was shot and killed at his home at age 50.
Cruise, January 9, 1991
Ten Percent, January 15-28, 1991
March 24, 1950 – February 3, 1986
Roger Thomas LeClaire attended Detroit’s De La Salle Collegiate High School, where he lettered in football. By the 1970s, he had made his way to California and did modeling under the name Geoffrey Kane for Playgirl and International Male. LeClaire also worked as a photographer and as a bartender in West Hollywood. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 35.
Detroit Free Press, February 7, 1986
The AIDS Memorial
December 14, 1936 – August 9, 2005
Detroit native Harvi Alonzo Griffin was a world-renowned harpist, singer, and teacher. He graduated from Cass Tech High School and earned a B.A. and his first She M.A. from Michigan State University, served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964, and pursued further studies at the Eastman School of Music. Griffin moved to Phoenix in the late 1980s and was survived by his partner of 13 years Lee Barr.
Arizona Republic, August 21, 2005
September 15, 1948 – May 20, 1977
Billie Jean Truitt was born in Detroit worked as a hotel clerk. Truitt was, in the terminology of the 1970s, a “post-op transsexual” when she took her own life in her Detroit apartment at age 28. She was survived by her fiancé Art Walker.
Detroit Free Press, May 25, 1977
October 10, 1949 – January 15, 1995
Joseph Mattingley Zendell coordinated programs for the Michigan Council for the Arts in Detroit from 1974 to 1981. Active in the Association of Suburban People and the Motor City Business Forum, he also served as an early financial officer with the Michigan Organization for Human Rights. In 1982, Zendell moved to Illinois to lead the Evanston Arts Council. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 45.
Chicago Tribune, January 21, 1995
April 12, 1932 – May 14, 2018
Orphaned as a child, former Detroiter Carl Mitchell joined the U.S. Army at age 17 and served as a combat medic during the Korean War. While home in Detroit on leave, he discovered the gay bars downtown, where his uniform attracted much attention. He later worked as a nurse in Detroit-area hospitals. Mitchell was survived in St. Petersburg, Florida by Robert Stanley, his partner of 48 years.
Between The Lines, May 24, 2018
March 23, 1952 – March 5, 2009
Pleasant Ridge resident Gaye Ann Leeny grew up in Detroit. She was employed as a designer of prototypes in the automotive industry and also operated Rainbow Graphics in Hazel Park. In 1986, she joined with five others to establish Windover Resort, an all-women’s campground near the Thumb village of Owendale. Leeny was survived by her loving partner Janie Plunkett Henderson.
October 14, 1949 – August 6, 1994
Taylor resident Larry Thomas Gaynier taught high school English and communications in Brownstown Charter Township for 22 years. A member of the Association of Suburban People in the early 1980s, Gaynier later served on the boards of Affirmations and the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 44.
Detroit Free Press, August 9, 1994
Affirmations Newsletter, September 1994