May 28, 1969 – June 23, 1990
Diane Kotila was born in Southfield and graduated with the class of 1987 from Kimball High School in Royal Oak. She was a student at Oakland University and was employed by William Beaumont Hospital. After losing her life in an automobile accident, friends held a benefit at the Railroad Crossing for a fund in her name at Affirmations to help provide lesbian and gay youth with counseling and support.
Royal Oak Daily Tribune, June 24, 1990
Affirmations newsletter, September 1990
December 8, 1998 – February 16, 2019
Dani Som, also known as Dani Sommerville, was born in Southfield and was a 2017 graduate of Berkley High School. He received a Spirit of Detroit Award in 2015 for achievement and leadership, including his involvement in music and theater, as well as extensive volunteer work. As an out young trans man, Som was active with Affirmations and FtM Detroit. Months after moving to Oregon, he took his own life.
Between The Lines, April 11, 2019
May 23, 1995 – August 8, 2015
According to Detroit police, 20-year-old Amber Monroe was engaged in sex work In August 2015 when she was shot and killed near Six Mile and Woodward. She was the twelfth trans woman of color murdered in the U.S. that year. Monroe attended Oak Park High School, studied at Wayne State, and was a familiar face at the Ruth Ellis Center.
Between The Lines, August 20, 2015
December 18, 1999 – April 9, 2015
Sam Taub was a ninth grader at West Bloomfield High School who identified as trans and skated with the Darlings of Destruction Junior Roller Derby League in Roseville. Taub struggled with anorexia and anxiety and took his own life at age fifteen.
The Advocate, April 16, 2015
Detroit Free Press, July 16, 2015
Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons
February 14, 1996 – February 12, 2016
Born in Tecumseh, Saja Mykel Nieto graduated in 2014 from Adrian High School, where he was active in the LGBT Club and the Color Guard. In addition to studying zoology at Northern Michigan University, Nieto worked at Pet Supplies Plus, as a supervisor at Adrian Image Center, and as a manager at B Fit.
Adrian Daily Telegram, February 15, 2016
August 12, 1993 – December 26, 2014
Cody Petzold was valedictorian of his class at Holly High School in 2011 and went on to become a student leader and LGBT activist at Oakland University. In addition to studying human resources, he served as the vice president of the campus Gay Straight Alliance and interned with the Chrysler Corporation.
Daily Tribune, December 30, 2014
Oakland Post, January 8, 2015
October 29, 1962 – August 16, 1980
James Dallas Egbert III was a gay 16-year-old computer science prodigy and Dungeons and Dragons fan who disappeared from his Michigan State University dorm room in August 1979, prompting a month-long search of steam tunnels beneath the university. He took his own life at age 17.
New York Times, August 25, 1980
May 12, 1984 – June 27, 2006
Known for his “fallout” dance move, Robert “Reebe” Hatcher became involved in the Ruth Ellis Center for homeless LGBT youth in Highland Park in his late teens. He died of complications from a heart condition at age 22.
Between The Lines, July 20, 2006
November 3, 1999 – May 19, 2013
Weeks after posting a YouTube video describing herself as a lesbian, eighth-grader Isabella “Bella” Bruinekool took her own life. An honor roll student at Milwood Magnet School in Kalamazoo, she enjoyed reading, skateboarding, photography, baking, and her friends.
Between The Lines, June 6, 2013