LGBTQ Advocate Jim Toy Passes Away On New Year’s Day At Age 91

Long known as the first man to publicly come out in the state of Michigan, LGBTQ activist and social worker Jim Toy passed away on Jan. 1, 2022. He was 91. Representative candidate Jason Morgan shared his own thoughts on social media, calling Toy a champion of “LGBTQ rights” and a “mentor, friend, and someone I admired”. Committed to progressing LGBTQ right and conversation throughout the state of Michigan, Toy told NPR in 2020 “I am committed to making as much trouble as I can to create and maintain justice” he told NPR in 2020.

Toy own advocacy kicked off at a gay at a rally in Detroit, Michigan in 1970, where he was representing the Detroit Gay Liberation Front (he was a founding member) Toy told the Ann Arbor News: “Our speaker at the anti-Vietnam War rally in Detroit said he wasn’t going to speak, so finally I spoke, and I came out. That was April 15, 1970.” Toy went on to co-found the University of Michigan’s Human Sexuality Office, (now the Spectrum Center). It was the first-ever staffed office at a university dedicated solely to sexual orientation. Toy also lobbied the university to include sexual orientation in their bylaws on nondiscrimination. Toy also held the distinction of being known as “the first openly gay man in Michigan”

Jim Toy was known to have friends and admirers throughout the state of Michigan and beyond, and counted U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) among them. She posted her own tribute on Twitter, saying in part  “Often I think about Jim’s words, ‘I am committed to making as much trouble as I can to create and maintain justice,’” she said. “He fought with every bone in his body to support the LGBTQ community, to fight for marriage equality, to ensure protections for so many” and went on to say “Love continues to win because of the dedication that Jim put into his work”.

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