Inside the Homes of Michigan LGBTQ+ Leaders

From Jay Kaplan’s homebody sanctuary to Corporal Dani Wood’s kitchen, how home is more than just a place

Sarah Bricker Hunt

Home. Is it a place or a feeling? For some people, “home” is just somewhere to lay your head. For others, home can be a safe haven — a respite from a larger world that increasingly includes an anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment that has infected every level of government and can unexpectedly permeate any social interaction at any time. Is there anything better than the feeling of closing the door behind you, ditching the jeans and relaxing into the space you’ve curated with one overarching design element in mind — you?

Here, several local LGBTQ+ leaders weigh in about the spaces that help them feel relaxed, inspired, invigorated or just plain cozy. Often, local leaders told us, these spaces are emblematic of triumph and security — hard-won sanctuaries that represent hopeful futures and places to make cherished new memories.

Jay Kaplan At Home Online

My house is only 840 square feet, but as I get older, I find it more and more a sanctuary from the outside world of work and current events.  After a house fire in 2013 gutted my home and resulted it in being rebuilt, I realize that as much as I am a social creature and a disciple of FOMO, I am also a homebody.   

Aside from social justice, my passion is theater, and as you can see, I have decorated the walls of my home with posters from shows, most of which would be considered obscure (I have a thing for the underdog). I also love to read books — fiction, non-fiction and lots of scripts.  Having many books around and bright-colored posters to look at gives me a feeling of warmth, security and contentment.  The words and artistry of others can often transcend the turmoil that we see in the world and inspire me to do my part to make things better.

Ruth Crowe At Home Online 1

I live alone. I lost my dog in January 2023 to cancer; she lived a good full life and she also loved this exact same spot on the lounge chair with me, laying in the warm sunshine. I miss her also. I am an artist and I live in Douglas, Michigan, where Mother Nature lends us the greatest access to the lake of lakes, Lake Michigan. 

This is my absolute favorite spot in my home — it just happens to be right outside my door on my back deck. It is my oasis away from my day-to-day stressors. I have numerous bird feeders that I sit and watch throughout the day. Have an evening cocktail or morning tea… heaven on Earth. And yes, I do struggle in winter months when I can't sit with nature and enjoy this peace, but I appreciate it so much,after the long cold months that keep me trapped indoors.

In this photo, you'll see my boots that I wear in the studio and an early copy of my traveling art exhibit called The Journal Project, which I’ll take to places like the “just say gay” state of Florida twice this year and the ArtPrize festival in Grand Rapids.

Angela Gabridge At Home Online

I grew up very blue collar and we moved around a lot. No place ever really felt like “home.” In my 20s, I was a single parent and struggled with poverty. We continued to move around as I worked to get my feet beneath me and began to create the life for us that I always dreamed of, but never really felt I deserved for just myself. For as long as I can remember, part of that dream included living in a big, old house, full of life. 

Moving into this house eight years ago was like walking into a warm hug. It is safety, it is stability, and it is the launching pad every day, every season for me and my family as we bash around this thing called living. I was honestly hard pressed to pick a single space, but in the end I chose the living room. We spend a good amount of time in here during the winter, in front of the fireplace reading, listening to records and rubbing dog bellies. 

I never thought I'd be able to call a space like this mine, and I'm so grateful to have it. I live in Grosse Pointe Park with my family plus our pets — two rescued American Bulldogs named Barry and Roo(ster) and one very spoiled guinea pig (Benny the Jet), who has made it clear humans are the only companions he is interested in. 

Dani Woods At Home Online

So I am a self-proclaimed soul food chef! I love my kitchen and everything in it. I love to spend hours in the market (I always have to have someone with me because I don't like push shopping carts — that's a whole different story, though) touching, smelling and examining produce so that I have the freshest ingredients for my meals. I will travel miles to experience different markets and what they offer to inspire my meals. I love to entertain, so trust that if ever anyone is visiting, I'm preparing a meal or fancy snacks to enjoy!

Logan Harding At Home Online

I share my home with my very best boy, Carhartt the deaf pittie, and my girlfriend Ruth moved in with her little dog, Alex, a couple of months ago. I chose to share my (very) humble living room because this is the first place I've ever lived where I felt like I could settle down and try to establish a physical home for myself. I had never bothered to set up a living room before — I only ever owned the bare essentials to make my space livable, and a couch felt like a luxury reserved for those who had the money, stability, and space to have one. That was never me. 

I was a minimalist because I was poor and on my own in the world for the most part. I moved around a lot as a young adult in search of an affordable cost of living and personal development, and I experienced some homelessness and housing instability for various reasons over the years. Those experiences made the idea of having furniture and decorative items extremely stressful to think about. Could I afford to buy something that would be expensive to move or served no purpose other than "looking pretty" when I was living paycheck to paycheck? Would it be more painful to have to leave things behind if my living situation suddenly changed again? Was it worth settling into somewhere, knowing that there was a high chance it wouldn't be long-term? 

I lived in this survival mode from the ages of 17-27, always thinking that whatever I owned or valued had to fit in my car's trunk "just in case.” Being brought on to the Stand with Trans team in August 2022 changed so many things for me! I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to earn some stability and do work that I truly care about, which was exactly what I needed to change my story. With my boss's support, hospitality and wise advice, I was able to get back on my feet and find this amazing rental in the heart of Lansing in May 2023. I love that this new sense of feeling at home in my life is slowly starting to reflect in my external environment. When I sit in this room, in this home, I think about the long journey it took for me to get here, and I'm grateful to be where I am.

B Jenkins At Home Online

My favorite spot at home is our garden. It’s our go-to place to relax and unwind. We take our cats out back and let them roam while we tend to the flower beds, greet the bees or just enjoy music together on the porch. In the summer, we’ll sit on the porch and daydream about house projects and travel. It’s a peaceful and simple atmosphere, which reminds me to take a breath and to take time to recharge without distraction.

A Nzere Kwabena At Home Online

This photograph encapsulates my sanctuary, where I retreat to rejuvenate, unwind and let my imagination roam freely. This cherished space, nestled within my home in Detroit, is lovingly called The Grey Room.

Within The Grey Room, a curated collection of photographs adorns the walls, capturing the artistry of some of my most beloved photographers, many of whom are dear friends. This visual tapestry serves as a constant source of inspiration and reflection.

In this sanctuary, my daily rituals unfold with comfort and familiarity. I indulge in the latest episodes of “The View” and “General Hospital,” thoughtfully recorded on my DVR. Engaging in personal conversations over the phone, diving into the pages of captivating books and savoring the timeless melodies of vinyl records enrich my solitary moments. Moreover, The Grey Room is a space of shared experiences where my partner and I bond over thrilling action movies, creating cherished memories together.

This photograph encapsulates more than just a physical space — it embodies the essence of solace, connection and creative expression I find within The Grey Room.

Cheryl Czach At Home Online Use This One

I love mid-century design, and this front room is a space where I've combined a few vintage pieces along with modern reproductions of mid-century items. I also love a bit of whimsy and fun. I  don't take myself too seriously and that plays out in how I decorate. Although I joke that my favorite color is black, the truth is, there is pink in nearly every room in my home. 

What you can't see in this photo as it is just outside of the frame is my pink record player and vintage record collection. So this room for me is about listening to music, hopefully with a cocktail in hand!


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