May 4, 1958 – September 5, 1994
Daniel Robert “Dannie” Lucas spent most of his life in Battle Creek before moving to Chicago in 1991. Lucas worked as a hairstylist, was long active with the Alano Club, and performed in community theater, realizing a long-held dream with his final role in “A Streetcar Named Desire” playing Stanley Kowalski. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 36.
Gay Chicago, September 22, 1994
December 7, 1960 – May 12, 2020
Originally from North Carolina, Redford resident and trailblazing activist Aimee Stephens was fired from her job as a funeral director in Garden City in 2013 when she revealed she was transgender and would be living as a woman. She filed suit against her employer but did not live to witness the Supreme Court decision that her firing violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Stephens was survived by her wife Donna.
New York Times, May 12, 2020
Between The Lines, May 18, 2020 [online only]
February 13, 1963 – January 10, 1995
Port Huron native and lifelong resident Charles James Jewell graduated with the class of 1981 from Port Huron High School and worked as a computer operator for a local bank. Confronted few resources in St. Clair County for people with HIV, Jewell founded HIV/AIDS Support Services in 1993. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 31.
Cruise, January 18, 1995
March 14, 1939 – January 5, 2017
The supportive mother of her gay son, Dorothy Lee Lawrence was born in Albion and spent much of her life in Battle Creek. She worked as a secretary and transcriptionist before enjoying a 24-year career with the Kellogg Company, all while raising a family. After retiring to Florida, she became active with the local chapter of Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays.
Battle Creek Enquirer, May 9, 2017
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
July 5, 1940 – April 2, 2019
Suzanne Cumberworth Gary was an Indiana native and graduated from Grosse Pointe High School. At the University of Michigan, she earned her B.A. and won the prestigious Hopwood Award for her poetry in 1960 and 1961. Following college, she drove to San Francisco and stayed, discovering lesbian feminism and teaching in Alameda, California. Gary was survived by her partner of 18 years Laura Bock.
Lesbian Connection, September/October 2019
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