Longtime LGBTQ activist from Ann Arbor, Jim Toy died at 91


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – James W. “Jim” Toy left an unwavering legacy of support for the LGBTQ community and policy reform.

The Ann Arbor activist died Saturday, New Years Day, at the age of 91.

“Jim Toy was a champion of equality. He was a pioneer not only for LGBTQ rights in Michigan, but across the country. And he was a dear friend to me and John, ”MP Debbie Dingell wrote on Twitter. “Throughout his life, he worked to ensure that the communities of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County were safe spaces where residents could live with pride in who they are and without fear of discrimination.”

Ann Arbor area officials including Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, Ann Arbor City Council Member Travis Radina and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel paid tribute to Toy on social media, praising his defense of marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and advocacy.

Growing up in Ohio with all types of “-ism”, Toy came out publicly in 1970 at an anti-Vietnam war rally in Detroit as a member of the Ann Arbor Gay Liberation Front, a- he told A4 in 2017.

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“I go up there and speak out against the war. What prompted me to do it, I don’t know. I said, “My name is Jim Toy, I’m 40 and a gay man,” Toy recalls.

Read: A conversation with gay rights activist and champion Jim Toy

Hailed as Michigan’s first openly gay man, Toy’s tireless advocacy life has had a huge impact on Washtenaw County’s LGBTQ community.

He helped found the University of Michigan Office of Human Sexuality (now the Spectrum Center), the Ann Arbor Gay hotline, the first “Proclamation of the Week”. lesbian and gay pride ”and the foundation of Wellness Networks / Huron. Valley (now unified: HIV Health and Beyond.)

Toy’s work includes a far-reaching impact on local politics. He is a co-author of the City of Ann Arbor Non-Discrimination Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and helped the Town of Ypsilanti create a non-discrimination ordinance.

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Toy with the worked with UM to amend non-discrimination statutes to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, as protected categories.

The Jim Toy Library at the University of Ann Arbor, which holds over 1,500 titles, and the Jim Toy Community Center are named in his honor.

Toy’s work also influenced religious organizations in Michigan. In 1971 he was appointed to the Diocesan Commission on Homosexuality of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. He co-authored the Diocesan Human Sexuality Program and was honored at St. Paul’s Cathedral Church in Detroit.

In 2017, Toy told A4, “In any community there are all these individual threads, each with a sub thread. We are all connected in everything we do.

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