January 16, 1952 – October 1, 2019
Arts supporter, benefactor, and retired attorney David Lyle Balas was born in Mt. Clemens, graduated from University Liggett High School, and attended universities in Ohio. He worked with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and served on the East Lansing City Council as an openly gay member from 1983 to 1995. Balas and his future husband Jim Sellman moved to Saugatuck in 2003 and wed in 2015.
Between The Lines, October 17, 2019
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
September 14, 1944 – June 24, 2005
Born in Los Angeles, Connie McConnohie moved to Detroit in the early 1970s where she worked for the city’s department of social services and became involved in gay lib politics. After a split with the Detroit Gay Activists, McConnohie formed the Motor City Alliance of Gays and published Gayzette, a short-lived local gay newspaper. In 1973, she ran as an open lesbian for a city council seat, losing in the primary.
Detroit Free Press, April 18, 2006
Connie McConnohie remembrance by East Side Republican Club
August 18, 1949 – September 2, 2010
A retired social studies teacher with the Dowagiac Union School District, Terry Kuseske became one of the state’s leading LGBTQ rights advocates of the new millennium. He served on the board of the newly rechristened Equality Michigan, led a successful ballot initiative to secure a gay-rights ordinance in Kalamazoo, and won a seat as an openly gay candidate to the Kalamazoo City Commission.
Kalamazoo Gazette, September 2, 2010
October 14, 1943 – March 27, 1992
James Dressel flew combat missions for the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War before being elected from Holland to the Michigan Legislature, a seat he lost due to sponsoring a bill to include sexual orientation under the state’s civil rights protections. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 48.
Michigan Tribune, April 1992
A Different Angle: Jim Dressel
James K. Dressel papers at the Bentley Historical Library
February 27, 1944 – December 31, 1979
As an openly lesbian bus driver, Carol Ernst became a key leader in the Ann Arbor Transit Employees Union, an advocate for sex worker rights, and a candidate for mayor on the Human Rights Party ticket in 1975.
Gay Insurgent, Summer 1980