February 22. 1938 – August 26, 1981
Douglas Lauren Niles graduated with the Flint Central High School class of 1956 and operated hair salons in downtown Flint for more than 20 years. He was long active in local community theater and civic ballet. Niles was found shot to death in his car.
Flint Journal, August 27, 1981
September 22, 1946 – June 27, 2011
A dedicated and influential figure in Kalamazoo’s LGBTQ community, Jim Knox was co-founder in 1985 of Community AIDS Resource and Education Services and co-founder in 1987 of the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, later renamed OutFront Kalamazoo. Knox was also a longtime employee of the Barn Theatre in Augusta.
Between The Lines, July 7, 2011
Kalamazoo Gazette, July 8, 2011
December 31, 1950 – October 26, 2011
Saginaw resident Lenore Simon was born in Chicago and earned her JD from Creighton University Law School in Omaha. Nebraska. In addition to practicing law as an attorney and mediator for more than 20 years, Simon co-founded a queer theater company Center in Monterey, California in the early 1990s and later continued the troupe in Las Vegas. She and her partner Connie Hoffman were married in 2009.
Lesbian Connection, March/April 2012
January 28, 1952 – February 27, 1992
Detroit native Richard Steven Shank graduated from Novi High School in 1971 and worked as a waiter and bartender at Morey’s and the Escape. Shank was also involved in local community theater and for a time performed female impersonation as Rickie Day. He died from AIDS-related complications at age 39.
Cruise, March 18, 1992
September 2, 1941 – April 20, 1992
Detroit native and onetime resident of Dallas, Texas, Sharon Piazza worked as a bouncer at Menjo’s in Detroit and performed in local community theater.
This Week in Texas, May 1, 1992
October 24, 1927 – July 6, 1961
Born in Detroit, William John Cornell attended Wayne University and, as one of city’s premier theatrical press agents in the 1950s, represented various stars when they visited the Motor City, including Ethel Merman and Marlena Dietrich. Cornell and his partner Peter Prass were killed when a fire gutted their Chicago Boulevard apartment.
Detroit Free Press, July 7, 1961
December 21, 1947 – September 24, 2009
Raised in Highland Park, Leslie Leonelli attended Oakland University and worked in local theater in Rochester and beyond Michigan before moving to New York City in 1973. Following a career off-Broadway, she worked as a massage therapist and helped found the women’s production company Ars Pro Femina. Later in life she operated Pearl’s Rainbow, a renowned resort for women.
Lesbian Connection, January/February 2010