Jeffrey Montgomery

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Jeffrey Montgomery
Born(1953-05-09)May 9, 1953
DiedJuly 18, 2016(2016-07-18) (aged 63)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Alma materMichigan State University
OccupationPublic relations; US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist
Political partyDemocratic
MovementLGBT movement in the US
RelativesJames Montgomery (brother)

Jeffrey Montgomery (May 9, 1953 – July 18, 2016) was an American LGBT activist and public relations executive. Montgomery was the founding executive director of Triangle Foundation[3][5][8][9] from the time the organization was founded in 1991 until September 2007.[6][10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Montgomery was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 9, 1953.[6] He grew up in nearby Grosse Pointe and graduated in 1971 from Grosse Pointe South High School,[1][6] where he had served as student body president.[1][7] His father, John Montgomery, worked for Chrysler as a public relations executive.[citation needed] His older brother, James Montgomery,[6] is an American blues musician, best known as the lead singer, blues harp player, frontman, and bandleader of The James Montgomery Blues Band (a.k.a. The James Montgomery Band).[citation needed] His other brother, John Montgomery,[6] also worked in the music industry before becoming an entrepreneur in the Metro Detroit area.[citation needed]

He graduated from Michigan State University in 1976[5] with a bachelor's degree in social science. In 1975, while attending Michigan State, he worked as the student house manager and head usher of the University's auditorium.[12] He moved to Detroit after graduating and remained a resident of Detroit for the remainder of his life.[1]

In 1984, his partner, Michael, was shot to death outside a Detroit gay bar, prompting Montgomery to engage in LGBT advocacy.[1][5]

Montgomery died from a heart attack[6] at the age of 63 on July 18, 2016[2][4][6] at Harper University Hospital in Detroit.[1] Friends reported that his health had been declining in the preceding years.[1]

Professional life[edit]

Montgomery worked for approximately 13 years, until January 1989, on the restoration of Detroit's Orchestra Hall.[1][13]

He worked as public relations director of America's Thanksgiving Parade.[1][14] He was serving in this role in 1989 when the parade moved back to the Gnome block[15] and in 1990, when for the first time a balloon escaped from the parade.[14]

Triangle Foundation[edit]

In 1991,[1] he joined Henry D. Messer and John Monahan in founding the Triangle Foundation[2][6] (now Equality Michigan).[1] He worked as the organization's president,[16] interim executive director,[8] and eventually executive director[1] until September 2007.[6][10]

The organization was initially founded to engage in victim advocacy around LGBT violence, and work with police and prosecutors to improve the handling of LGBT related cases.[1] The organization soon expanded to include work on discrimination cases, and then political advocacy following the closure of the Michigan Organization for Human Rights.[1][2] By 2003, the organization had grown to five paid staff and hundreds of volunteers, and had helped about 5,000 victims of LGBT-related discrimination, harassment, or violence.[5]

He made the formal announcement of his departure as executive director at the organization's 2007 annual dinner on September 29, 2007.[10]

Political activism[edit]

Jeffrey Montgomery attends AIDS Quilt Memorial Display Candlelight Vigil in Washington DC
Jeffrey Montgomery attends The NAMES Project's AIDS Quilt Memorial Display Candlelight Vigil at the Lincoln Memorial on October 10, 1992.

Following the murder of his partner, Michael, in 1984, Montgomery began to engage in LGBT advocacy.[1][2][3][5] He was motivated to work on LGBT anti-violence issues after learning from a Wayne County prosecutor a day after Michael's funeral that the Detroit Police Department was not spending many resources on solving the murder, calling it "just another gay killing".[1][3][5][7] As of July 2016, Michael's murder remains unsolved.[1][3]

Montgomery was widely quoted in media outlets on LGBT issues and high-profile LGBT-related crimes,[6] such as the murder of Scott Amedure in 1995,[3][7][17] and murder of Matthew Shepard.[1][7][18] National LGBT organizations paid for Montgomery to attend the trials of Shepard's killers.[1] In 2001, Montgomery was a featured participant in an A&E Network documentary about the Matthew Shepard case.[19]

Montgomery was the co-chair of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), for which he was also a national spokesperson.[18][20] He was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes,[21] the Bias Crime Response Task Force of the Michigan Commission on Civil Rights,[6][22] and a board member of the ACLU of Michigan.[21]

He was one of the founding board members of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation (also known as the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance) in 2003, and remained active with the organization until his death.[23] He was also an inaugural member of the WikiQueer Global Advisory Board and served as Strategic Counsel to the wiki's parent organization, The Aequalitas Project.[24]

Montgomery was among a group of LGBT activists, representing NCAVP, invited to Washington, D.C. for meetings beginning in 1997 with senior policy officials at the White House.[6][25]

In 2000, he delivered the inaugural Matthew Shepard Memorial Lecture at Brown University.[6] That address, "America...You Kill Me," was dedicated to Matthew Shepard.[6]

In 2002, Montgomery was invited, with other LGBT leaders from across the country, to meet with and inform United States Senators about the issues and challenges facing the LGBT community.[6]

In 2004, he helped organize opposition to Michigan's same-sex marriage constitutional amendment,[9] passed later that year.[26]

In the years prior to his death, he was working on a feature-length documentary showcasing his work in Detroit's LGBT community. The film, America You Kill Me, was scheduled to be released in 2016.[4][6]


Montgomery accepting the Vicki Sexual Freedom Award in 2012 from Ricci Joy Levy

The Detroit City Council honored Montgomery with the "Spirit of Detroit" award three times.[6] The Michigan Legislature twice commended Montgomery with special tributes.[6]

In 1997, he received a Golden Apple Award from the Roeper School.[27]

In August 1999, Montgomery was named one of the "Best and Brightest" national LGBT activists by The Advocate magazine.[28][29]

Montgomery was named, along with twelve others, a "Michiganian of the Year" for 2002 by the Detroit News,[2][6] stating "He turned personal tragedy into a fight for gay equality".[5]

In May 2003, Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm honored his work with a special tribute, calling him a "hero and living legend".[11] The governor also noted that he was "among the most visible and accomplished advocates for safety and equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Michigan history".[6]

He received the Liberty Bell Award from the State Bar of Michigan at their annual meeting in September 2006.[20]

Montgomery accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pride Banquet and Awards Ceremony in Warren, Michigan on June 25, 2010.[21]

In September 2012, the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance honored Montgomery with its Vicki Sexual Freedom Award.[30]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Helms, Matt (July 19, 2016). "Jeff Montgomery, Michigan Gay-Rights Advocate, Dies at 63". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lewis, Sarah (July 19, 2016). "Michigan LGBTQ Activist Jeffrey Montgomery Dies at 63". Metro Times. Ferndale, MI. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Ennis, Dawn (July 19, 2016). "Remembering Jeff Montgomery, LGBTQ Rights Advocate". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Breaking: Jeffrey Montgomery, Triangle Foundation Founder, Has Died". Between the Lines. July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Vandenabeele, Janet (May 4, 2003). "Michiganians of the Year: Jeffrey Montgomery". The Detroit News. p. 07X.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Williams, Candice (July 19, 2016). "Michigan Gay Rights Activist Jeffrey Montgomery Dies". The Detroit News. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e Heywood, Todd (July 20, 2016). "Jeffrey Montgomery, LGBTQ Leader Dies at 63". Between the Lines. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Charney, Jennifer (April 14, 1998). "Motor City Blues". The Advocate. p. 52. Retrieved December 22, 2010 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ a b Irwin, Jim (March 4, 2004). "Gay Couples Are Denied Marriage Licenses in Detroit". Argus-Press. Owosso, MI. Associated Press. Retrieved December 22, 2010 – via Google News.
  10. ^ a b c Boyd, Leah (September 20, 2007). "Triangle Foundation Director to Step Down". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Triangle's Montgomery to Step Down". Between the Lines. September 27, 2007. Archived from the original on October 22, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  12. ^ "Show Must Go On, So It Did in MSU Flood". Detroit Free Press. April 22, 1975. p. A3. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  13. ^ Craig, Charlotte W. (January 29, 1989). "Young Detroiter Shares Washington Limelight with George Bush". Detroit Free Press. p. 3J. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  14. ^ a b Williams, Mike (November 23, 1990). "Thanksgiving 1990: Great Parade Day". Detroit Free Press. p. A1. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  15. ^ Fitzgerald, Jim (September 9, 1989). "Woodward Avenue Blues Eased with Parade Shift". The Detroit News. p. 12C. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  16. ^ Garrett, Craight (June 2, 1996). "Should Canton Get into Morals Business?". The Detroit News. p. 10A. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  17. ^ Braiser, L.L. (August 27, 1999). "Schmidtz Verdict Upheld". Detroit Free Press. p. 8A. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  18. ^ a b McCullen, Kevin (October 26, 1999). "Sexual Advance Triggered Beating of Shepard, Defense Attorney Says". Rocky Mountain News. Denver. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).
  19. ^ "Matthew Shepard Story — Special, The (2001) - Overview". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Kaplan, Montgomery Honored by State Bar". Between the Lines. September 2006. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  21. ^ a b c Carreras, Jessica (June 24, 2010). "Running the Relay". Between the Lines. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  22. ^ Shepardson, David (May 19, 1996). "Panel urges a broader state hate crime law". Detroit Free Press. p. 4B. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  23. ^ Woodhull Freedom Foundation (July 19, 2016). "Woodhull Freedom Foundation Mourns Death of One of Its Founders, Jeffrey Montgomery". Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  24. ^ "WikiQueer:Global Advisory Board". WikiQueer. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  25. ^ Savage, Todd (December 9, 1997). "Taking It to the People". The Advocate. pp. 33–34. Retrieved July 20, 2016 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ "Election 2004: Ballot Measures". CNN. November 2004. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  27. ^ "Noted Actor to Speak". Detroit Free Press. April 7, 1997. p. 2B. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  28. ^ Gideonse, Ted; Johnson, Hans; Jordan, Tony; Meyer, Lisa; Vozenilek, Helen; Gallagher, John (August 17, 1999). "Our Best and Brightest Activists: Politics". The Advocate. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).
  29. ^ Smyntek, John (July 23, 1999). "Names & Faces". Detroit Free Press. p. 6F. Retrieved July 19, 2016 – via open access
  30. ^ Levy, Ricci J. (July 12, 2012). "Legendary Sexual Freedom Advocate to be Honored for Dedication to Establishing Sexual Freedom as a Fundamental Human Right". Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Retrieved July 20, 2016.

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