April Wellness Networks, Inc. in Ferndale and AIDS Care Connection in Detroit merged on April 1 to become AIDS Partnership Michigan (now UNIFIED – HIV Healthy & Beyond), the largest AIDS service provider in Michigan with an estimated annual budget in excess of $3 million, and a staff of around 38.
June Gov. John Engler signed legislation in Lansing that makes same-sex marriage illegal in Michigan. Michigan was the 13th state to have enacted such legislation since the beginning of 1996.
June Billed as Capitol Commitment, the 1996 Michigan Pride March held its first mass commitment ceremony on June 22 on the state Capitol steps. Presiding over the ceremonies was the Rev. Dr. Mel White, justice minister of the Metropolitan Community Church. 85 couples participated.
June Lansing State Journal sports writer Bob Gross was found brutally murdered in his downtown home on June 27. His body was mutilated, then the body and his home were set on fire. Gross’ murder is one of several high profile murders of gay men that year. His murder was discussed in a historic meeting between Lansing community activists and police on July 25.
Gays in Politics
August Michigan Democratic Party selects first openly gay delegate, John Burchett, to go to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Historical Moments for Communities of Color
1994: Detroit’s Full Truth Unity Fellowship serves the urban gay community. The church, founded by pastor Rev. Renee McCoy, a native Detroiter, was in the forefront of all progressive and social changes for African Americans.
1995: Black community leaders united to establish Detroit’s first gay pride for people of African descent. Hotter Than July, hosted by the Billionaire Boys Club, was set for the last week of July at the Crowne Plaza Pontchatrain in downtown Detroit.
1995: The Black community saves and supports Harmon House AIDS Agency, which lost a large part of its funding in April. Donations of food, medical supplies, household items, linens, furniture, and money poured in. The Harmon House was founded by Stephen Turner and Herb Knight. Cornelius Wilson was hired as the Program Director.
1996: The Joyful Sounds of Soul was selected as one of the groups to open the 1996 Centennial Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta from July 19 through August 4. This marked the first time that any Detroit group had opened at the Olympics. Their debut on Soul City Records, “Hold On,” featured the vocals of Donnie Mark.
1996: The gay Latino/a group LLEGO – Latino Lesbian and Gay Organization for Southeast Michigan – was formed to provide physical and emotional support within LGBTQ Spanish-speaking communities, as well as Latino/a programming in and around Detroit. It was founded by Tony O’Rourke-Quintana, and disbanded in 2013.