“Little Doug” was born in Midland on April 13, 1934, weighing just 2 pounds. At the age of 13, Doug started piano lessons and then voice lessons. He graduated from CMU in June 1959 with a BA degree in Liberal Arts. In 1967, he began a 21 year career with Giant Super Market in Midland and Mt. Pleasant. In 1968, he went on a blind date with a man named Don. They say love is blind, which the date proved to be true because that would be the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship. Together, Doug and Don owned D&D’S Antiques for 19 years. In 2004, 36 years after they met, Don died and Doug joined Perceptions six months later. In his nomination of “Douglas Solosky Some-times”, Greg Gwaltney commented that sometimes it’s not the loudest speakers and charismatic cheerleaders that make the biggest impact, but people like “Little Doug” who lead by daily example. At the age of 80, Doug continues to be an active member of the community and Perceptions. This year he helped with mailings and spoke at the strategic planning meeting about the need to move forward with the times. At a recent Saginaw City Council hearing on LGBT rights, Doug said, “I thought they should know old people care about this, too! ”Doug has earned the Lifetime Achievement Award by the way he has lived his life, his encouragement of others, and his optimistic outlook on the future!
Don Tilley is a high school political science/government teacher at Bay City Central High School and serves on the Bay Coun-ty Board of Commissioners. In January, Mr. Tilley proposed a Human Rights Ordinance in Bay County that would have banned LGBT discrimination in all county government services and contracts. Though much of the opposition to the ordinance focused on the rights of trans people, Mr. Tilley held the high ground and would not consider dropping Gender Identity from the ordinance. Though it was not approved, a policy to protect county employees from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation was. Mr. Tilley’s work as an ally to the LGBT community continues to raise awareness in the region. In the midst of what was an emotionally charged environment, Mr. Tilley never lost sight of his life as a teacher. He is a role model for young people who often wonder if they can make a difference in society. The LGBT community is in his debt, especially those LGBT county employees who no longer have to look over their shoulders, wondering if they will be fired or bullied. Don Tilley made a difference.
Monika Sciba has worked at SVSU for several years as registrar and academic advisor, and is now the special assistant in the Dean’s Office of the College of Health & Human Services. A former advisor to SVSU Living Proud, Monika is currently working to create an LGBTQI health care simulation program to help students in the health related programs be more sensitive to LGBTQI patient needs. In addition, she serves on the LGBTQI Advisory Committee at SVSU to coordinate student and staff programming to create an inclusive campus culture at SVSU. Monika serves employee search committees as an inclusion advocate.
SVSU Living Proud is the student-run LGBT and allies organization at Saginaw Valley State University. Living Proud provides resources, education on LGBT issues, and networking and socializing opportunities to LGBT students and allies. Living Proud is inclusive of all identities, and they welcome students, staff and faculty, and individuals from the surrounding communities. The aim of Living Proud is to provide a safe space where individuals are free to express their identities without judgment. Living Proud is always working to raise awareness and funds for LGBT causes on the SVSU campus and in the community. At its Drag Show in April, Living Proud raised a record $2,500 for the Great Lakes Bay Area AIDS Walk.
Rev. Jeff Liebmann is minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, a Welcoming Congregation. Since his arrival in 2011, he has testified before State House and Senate committees on issues including reproductive justice, LGBT rights, religious freedom, and marriage equality. For the Midland Daily News, he writes about LGBT issues from a faith perspective. He spoke before the Bay County Commissioners and the Saginaw City Council and is laying the groundwork for a nondiscrimination ordinance in Midland. Under his leadership, UUFoM commemorates Transgender Day of Remembrance, is a sponsor of the Great Lakes Bay Area AIDS Walk and a participant in the local Pride Festival. Rev. Jeff considers it a primary mission of his ministry to help people learn the skills of being an ally to all oppressed groups, and to accepting the grace of Love in all its forms.
Charin Davenport is a trans* activist for human rights and equality. Char spoke at nearly every pubic meeting in support of Human Rights Policies and Ordinances in Bay County and City of Saginaw. She put a human face to transgender issues and has become a fierce advocate for TLGB equality. As an English instructor, Ms. Davenport shares her story with her students and colleagues at Delta College and SVSU. She is a Board Member and Communications Director for Transgender Michigan, and Advisor to the Perceptions Board of Trustees. She writes for several blogs, as well as the Perceptions newsletter. Char works closely with several organizations, including Equality Michigan, the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Education, and the ACLU.
The Dow Chemical Company supports the Perceptions Holiday Gala and other Perceptions events; sponsors the local Pride event, participates in the AIDS Walk, and provides funding for scholarships through the National PFLAG organization. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has given the Dow Chemical Co. a perfect score for fair treatment of LGBT employees in the workplace. Recently, Dow joined the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, which was launched to advocate amending the Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act to include protection from discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity”.