December – The Black Press
1 – KICK! magazine, published by Kick Publishing Company, hit newsstands on Dec. 1. As the third black LGBT media company established in America, the publication run by Editor-in-Chief Curtis Lipscomb and his staff was created to inform the LGBT community of issues relative to LGBT African Americans.
June – Marchers Protest and Party in Lansing
2 – On June 12, over 5,000 people marched, rallied, and celebrated outside the state Capitol in Lansing for Stonewall 25: Pride, Protest & Celebration organized by volunteers of the Pride March ’94 Committee.
February – Worldwide Sport and Cultural Event
3 – Team Great Lakes organized more than 125 Michigan athletes for Gay Games IV in June in New York City. This was a huge leap from the 26 known to have taken part in the 1990 Gay Games in Vancouver. Michigan athletes were strongly represented in swimming, tennis, and running.
January – Gays and AIDS on the Big Screen
4 – Between The Lines was the first Michigan newspaper to review the film “Philadelphia.” The Michigan Campaign for Human Dignity and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force presented a special pre-screening on Jan. 12 at the AMC Maple.
December – Sister Love
5 – Independent, grassroots organization, A. Lorde Collective, established to affirm the identity of lesbians of African descent. Its membership consisted of self-identified black lesbians from across the state of Michigan although it was predominantly made up of Detroiters.
The Evolution of Ellen
Start of Something Big
Stand-up comedian Ellen DeGeneres – once Showtime’s “Funniest Person in America” – scores her own ABC sitcom “Ellen” in 1994. The show builds popularity and more than 40 million people tuned in to watch DeGeneres come out in “The Puppy Episode,” making her the first openly lesbian character on television. Further, DeGeneres is featured on the cover of Time magazine’s April 14, 1997, issue, when she unabashedly declared: “Yep, I’m Gay.”
Out and Off
“Ellen” explored various LGBT issues during its fifth season as ratings continued to decline. Conservatives launched a campaign to push advertisers to pull out and Disney-owned ABC cancelled the show in 1998, though “The Puppy Episode” would eventually win a Peabody and an Emmy.
One More Try
CBS picked up “The Ellen Show” from 2001-2002. DeGeneres once again played a lesbian character with co-star heavyweights Cloris Leachman and Martin Mull. This is after DeGeneres had returned to her stand-up comedy roots. She wrote an HBO special titled “Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning” that left out any overtly gay or political humor. Despite good reviews, CBS cancelled the variety show after just 13 episodes.
A New Approach
In 2003, DeGeneres wrote another HBO special “Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now,” and introduced herself to a new generation of potential fans as the voice Dory in the Pixar movie “Finding Nemo.” That same year, her current talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” debuted on NBC. It has won dozens of Emmys.
Top of the World
DeGeneres is one of the biggest entertainers in the world worth an estimated $360 million. She has hosted the Oscars, the Emmys and the Grammys. She has appeared as a guest judge on American Idol, written four books, launched a clothing line, has her own production company, record label, home and lifestyle brands, and more. Her show celebrates 15 years and earns a reported $50 million annually. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded DeGeneres the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a civilian in the U.S.