Diane Collins

Diane Collins pic 2

November 29, 1957 – January 23, 2011

Royal Oak resident Diane Helen Collins graduated with the class of 1975 from Capac High School and went on to serve in the U.S. Navy.  She worked as a dental assistant was a member of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.  Collins was survived by her son.

Oakland Press, February 9, 2011

Karen Johnstone

Karen Johnstone pic

February 13, 1938 – May 6, 2020

Born in Ohio, Karen Sue Johnston graduated from Saginaw High School in 1956 and earned her B.S. in biology from Albion College in 1960.  After pursuing advanced degrees at Columbia and DePaul, she served as Director of Physical Therapy at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak from 1970 to 1996.  Johnstone represented in the U.S. at four Paralympics Games.  Her partner Dr. Jane C. Perrin survived her.

Detroit Free Press, May 12, 2020

Monica Molinaro

Monica Molinaro pic

April 2, 1949 – April 9, 2022

Artist, educator, Detroit native, and Royal Oak resident Monica Mary Molinaro graduated from Troy High School in 1967.  She later attended the College for Creative Studies and earned a graduate degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1983.  Her paintings and collages were showcased at such venues as Cade Gallery, CCS, Gallery 911, Flip, and posthumously as part of the Mighty Real/Queer Detroit exhibit.

Metro Times, April 27, 2022

Clifford Kelley

Clifford Kelley pic

September 28, 1937 – September 2, 1985

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Clifford William Kelley worked as a regional sale representative for Detroit Edison and was involved in Wayne County politics.  While separated from his wife, he was found murdered in his Royal Oak apartment.  Known as “John” in the gay world, Kelley was last seen leaving an adult bookstore near Woodward and Six Mile in Detroit with another male.

Detroit Free Press, September 6, 1985

Cruise, November 13, 1985

Rayya Elias

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April 16, 1960 – January 4, 2018

Lesbian writer, filmmaker, and punk musician Rayya Mokdessy Elias was born in Syria, grew up in Metro Detroit, and graduated from Center Line High School.  She moved to New York in the 1980s, returning intermittently to Michigan, living in Warren and Royal Oak.  Elias directed the film shorts Anonymous and Lunchroom and authored the memoir Harley Loco.  She was survived by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Cut, January 5, 2018

The Alpha Wolf

Michael Guigar

Michael Guigar pic

August 4, 1966 – February 24, 2020

Michael Hugh Guigar was born in Marlette and earned his B.S. in computer science at Saginaw Valley State University.  He later resided in Ferndale, Royal Oak, and Hazel Park and became active with the Detroit Together Men’s Chorus for many years.  Guigar was employed by 7-Eleven and attended the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.  His partner Brent Toner survived him.

Between The Lines, March 5, 2020

Beth Greenapple

Beth Greenapple pic

June 27, 1957 – March 2, 2020

Long Island, New York native Beth Sara Greenapple resided in Royal Oak and Southfield after moving to Metro Detroit in 1995 and taught music at Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills and the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills.  She was a founding member of the Jewish Gay Network of Michigan and served as its early president.  Greenapple was survived by her partner Julia Pais and their son Nadav Pais-Greenapple.

Hebrew Memorial Chapel

Paul Steczek

Paul Steczek pic

July 22, 1957 – April 17, 2013

Paul Edward Steczek of Royal Oak grew up in Detroit and was on the staff of the Backstage in the 1980s.  He later worked as manager for 24 Hour Video and then operated Blue Moon Video for 11 years.  Steczek was preceded in death by his partner Richard Shank in 1992 and survived by Daniel Christine, with whom he was joined in a civil union in 1995.

Between The Lines, May 2, 2013

Harold “Buddy” Bigham

Harold Bigham pic

August 17, 1915 – December 27, 1977

Harold James “Buddy” Bigham grew up in Royal Oak and had a long career as a photographer in the research department of General Motors.  A homeowner in Detroit’s Boston-Edison neighborhood, Bigham was a familiar patron for many years at the Diplomat, Bookie’s Club 870, and other local gay bars.

Detroit Free Press, December 28, 1977

Sharon Smith

Sharon Smith pic 2

May 2, 1940 – April 10, 2005

Royal Oak resident Sharon Lee Smith was born in Detroit and graduated of Redford High School in 1958.  She was later employed as an office manager for many years.  Smith enjoyed lesbian romance novels, the LPGA, the History Channel, and Jeapardy.  Before a stroke forced her to live in a nursing home, she shared a home with her partner of 29 years Joyce.

Lesbian Connection September/October 2005