The 1980s were a time of great struggle for the LGBT community. With the discovery of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, an increase in the number of discriminatory laws against gay and lesbian groups, and with a noticable politcal backlash against the community, this decade marks a time of significant challenges for the LGBT movement.

Activism & Legislation

This section highlights some of the legislation and activities which were taking place in Michigan during the 1980s. The civil rights of LGBT people were under great attack during the Reagan and Bush years, and AIDS was first publically introduced as being a disease effecting gay men.  

Michigan House Bill 5000.jpg

Michigan House Bill 5000

MOHR Board Meeting.jpg

MOHR Board Meeting

Ann Arbor AIDS Flyer.jpg

Action Against AIDS Ann Arbor Flyer

Michigan Live '85.jpg

Michigan Live '85

People & Places

There was so much going on in the gay community in Michigan during the 1980s. From an active bar life, to LGBT individuals getting fired from coming out, to even more works being published by LGBT authors. The images here show you some of the highlights and lowlights of what was happening in Michgican's LGBT community during this decade. 

Older Ralph Stallings & Ralph O'Reilly.jpg

Ralph O'Reilly and Ralph Stallings in 1980

At the Copa.jpg

Copa Night Club

Janet Rauch at Microphone.jpg

Janet Rauch

Beth Brant.jpg

Beth Brant

Detroit Together Mens Chorus.jpg

Detroit Together Men's Chorus

Go-go Dancers.jpg

Go-Go Dancers at Gold Coast Saloon

David Krumroy Obituary.jpg

David Krumroy Obituary


Gay and lesbian publishers, like Alyson, Naiad, and Firestone, were taking off in full force during the 1980s. Here are just some of examples of these publications (and their Michigan authors) during this time. 

Book cover - Curious Wine.jpg

Curious Wine

Mohawk Trail - Beth Brant.jpg

Mohawk Trail

Book Cover - Each Hand a Map.jpg

Each Hand a Map

Event Timeline: 1980s

1980: Gay Michigan State University student is forced to move out of East Lansing religious residence.

1980: Motor City Business Forum is founded.

1980: Police apprehend 16 men in crackdown on homosexual activity at Flint area rest stops.

1980: Police arrest 39 gay men in crackdown on solicitation in neighborhood of Lansing's gay bars.

1980: Redeemer Metropolitan Community Church is organized in Flint.

1980: Rick Rappaport produces series on the Lansing area lesbian and gay community which airs on WELM-TV.

1980: The Zoo opens on Portage Street in Kalamazoo.

1980: Two male students barred from entering Michigan State University dancathon fundraiser.

1981: Back Pocket opens on Greenfield in Detroit.

1981: Baptist church in Mason expels gay member.

1981: Chapter of Black and White Men Together is established in Detroit.

1981: Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is formed in Lansing.

1981: Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Council is started for better coordination among community organizations.

1981: Detroit's Jennifer Foxx, a.k.a. Robert Bruno, wins Miss Gay America title.

1981: Diplomat Health Club opens on S. Division in Grand Rapids.

1981: Douglas Dunes gay resort opens on Blue Star Highway near Saugatuck.

1981: Feeling rejected over his homosexuality, Arthur Arroyo sets fire to Economics Building at the University of Michigan.

1981: First gay campus group forms at the University of Michigan-Flint.

1981: Michigan Department of Health reports state's first two deaths from AIDS.

1982: First Michigan transgender conference is held at Douglas Dunes near Saugatuck.

1982: Gubernatorial candidate James Blanchard expresses hesitance to support job protections for gay teachers.

1982: Hayloft Saloon opens on Greenfield in Detroit.

1982: Lansing police receive lesbian and gay awareness training.

1982: Lesbian Alliance forms in Greater Lansing.

1982: Michigan State University fraternity suspends member John Nowak for being gay.

1982: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays/Ann Arbor is founded.

1982: Telephone threats prompt cancellation of Flint Gay Coalition dance.

1983: Effort is made to revive a Detroit chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

1983: Gunman threatens demonstrators at Ann Arbor Gay Pride Week rally.

1983: Lansing residents file lawsuit over Ingham County funding of lesbian/gay hotline.

1983: Lizette Chevalier starts the Detroit Women's Coffeehouse.

1983: Railroad Crossing, later the Rainbow Room, opens on E. Eight Mile in Detroit.

1983: Saginaw man files suit against landlord for evicting him for being gay.

1983: State Rep. James Dressell introduces H.B. 5000 which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

1983: Three Rivers minister decries gay-oriented materials at local public library.

1983: Wellness Networks Inc. is established in Detroit to combat AIDS epidemic.

1984: Ameritech denies use of the words "gay" and "lesbian" in yellow pages ad for Detroit's Chosen Books.

1984: Calling sexual activity in Woodland Mall restrooms a "serious problem," Grand Rapids police arrest 27 men.

1984: Cruise Club, later Silent Legacy then Stilletto's, opens on Middlebelt Road in Inkster.

1984: Dignity/Tri-Cities is founded in Bay City.

1984: Gay computer club and bulletin board service STUDS 30 starts in Detroit.

1984: Gay Wayne State University professor Philip J. Traci found murdered in his home.

1984: Longtime Detroit bar owner Sam "Bookie" Stewart dies.

1984: MOHR officials meet with Michigan State University public safety to discuss homosexual activity in Union rest rooms.

1984: Off Broadway East opens on Harper in Detroit.

1984: Police arrest 31 for alleged homosexual liaisons at a I-275 rest area in Canton Township.

1984: President Harold Shapiro issues non-discrimination statement at the University of Michigan.

1984: Saginaw City Council passes ordinance protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination in housing.

1984: State non-discrimination bill, H.B. 5000, fails to pass legislature.

1984: The Nectarine opens on E. Liberty in Ann Arbor.

1985: Genesee County prosecutor charges AIDS carrier with attempted murder for spitting.

1985: Kalamazoo chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays forms.

1985: Lambda Car Club chapter forms for Detroit region.

1985: Lansing Mayor Terry McKane vetoes Fair Housing ordinance that would protect homosexuals.

1985: MOHR executive director Craig Covey debates Michigan Moral Majority leader David Clagget.

1985: Scott Amedure is among the new wait staff at the grand opening of Popper's in Pontiac.

1985: State Bar owner Melva Earhart dies at age 71 in Flint.

1985: University of Michigan law professor James Martin becomes Washtenaw County's first AIDS death.

1985: Wayne State University amends non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation.

1985: WDIV-TV in Detroit cancels appearance of William Townsend because of camera crew's fear of AIDS.

1986: Lansing State Journal publishes names of 42 arrested in videotaped surveillance of rest stop near Holt.

1986: Battle Creek jury rejects homosexual panic defense in trial of David Stewart for the murder of Wayne Waltz.

1986: Bruce Hayes launches Adam and Even More gay computer dating service out of his Grand Blanc home.

1986: Camp Whatyawanabe, a lesbian-only campground in Huron County, draws fire from nearby residents.

1986: Formation of Gay/Lesbian Student Organization at the University of Michigan-Dearborn sparks controversy.

1986: Kalamazoo jury finds Wayne Watson's slaying by teens justified because of alleged homosexual advances.

1986: Michigan Civil Rights Commission designates AIDS a handicap under state law.

1986: MOHR resumes statewide Pride marches in Detroit.

1986: State Public Health director estimates that 43% of people with AIDS in Michigan are Black.

1986: Wellness Networks-Huron Valley, later the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, forms in Ann Arbor area.

1987: Gay Community News is barred from Michigan prison system.

1987: Bay City police arrest 15 men in Veteran's Memorial Park for homosexual and bisexual pick-ups.

1987: Detroit City Council funds establishment of MOHR community center.

1987: Gay activists protest visit of Pope John Paul II to Detroit.

1987: Grand Traverse city council member resigns in furor over anti-gay remarks.

1987: Group of Detroit area people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS form FRIENDS Alliance.

1987: Marci Devernay starts Men 4 Men escort service for Detroit area gays and bisexuals.

1987: Owner of Whisper's in Saginaw pledges to stay open despite threats from neighbors.

1987: Several suburban Detroit cable companies refuse to air MOHR television program.

1987: The Gay and Lesbian Community Network of Western Michigan forms in Grand Rapids following March on Washington.

1987: United Church of Christ minister Cyril Colonius is ousted from his congregation near Kalamazoo.

1987: Uproar cancels Ann Arbor speech by representative of the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

1988: American Family Association requests removal ofYoung, Gay & Proud from the Saginaw Public Library.

1988: Detroit Area Gay/Lesbian Anti-Violence Project records 115 incidents of anti-gay crime for the year.

1988: First Michigan display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is held at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

1988: Gay Hazel Park cop Michael Foley wins suit against Detroit police for anti-gay harassment.

1988: Grand Rapids gay community claims media coverage of lesbian suspects in nursing home murders is unfair.

1988: Grand Rapids Mayor Gerald Helmholdt refuses to formally recognize city's first gay pride celebration.

1988: Kellogg refuses to pull allegedly homophobic "Nut 'N Honey" commercial.

1988: Lesbian and gay resource phone line begins operation in Kalamazoo.

1988: Lesbian/Gay Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party is established.

1988: Michigan Organization for Human Rights files lawsuit against Michigan sodomy law.

1988: Midwest AIDS Prevention Project is formed in Ferndale.

1988: National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays moves its headquarters to Detroit.

1988: New state AIDS disclosure law makes it a felony to conceal HIV infection from sex partners.

1988: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays chapter started in Flint.

1988: Shortly before enacting new hate crimes statute, state lawmakers delete "sexual orientation" from protections.

1988: Simcha, an organization for the Jewish lesbian and gay community, is founded in Southfield.

1988: The Network in Grand Rapids opens gay and lesbian community center on S. Division.

1988: University of Michigan student Josh Simon starts on-line discussion forum LGM:RAP.

1988: Wellness Networks in Flint claims its lease was broken due to fear of AIDS.

1989: Affirmations Community Center is established for Detroit area lesbians and gays.

1989: AIDS Care Connection is established in Detroit.

1989: Cumulative number of AIDS cases in Michigan surpasses 1,000.

1989: Debate rages at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival over whether to allow male children of attendees.

1989: Fire guts dormitory room of gay student Jerry Mattioli at Michigan State University.

1989: Gay rights supporters hold hug-in at Moriarty's Pub in Lansing to protest policy against same-sex affection.

1989: Lansing Gay Men's Chorus is founded.

1989: Livingston County judge revokes custody of two daughters from lesbian Debra Lamberson.

1989: Midwest AIDS Prevention Project survey finds gay and bisexual men in Michigan having safer sex.

1989: PFLAG/Detroit releases video documentary Listening, Learning, Loving, produced by Fred Shaheen.

1989: Rev. Renee McCoy establishes Full Truth Unity Fellowship Church in Detroit.

1989: Ron DeVrou is appointed graduate assistant for lesbian and gay issues at Western Michigan University.

1989: Statewide Pride March moves to Lansing in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Stonewall.