May 9, 1953|
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||July 18, 2016
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Alma mater||Michigan State University|
|Occupation||Public relations; US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist|
|Movement||LGBT movement in the US|
|Relatives||James 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 from the time the organization was founded in 1991 until September 2007.
Montgomery was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 9, 1953. He grew up in nearby Grosse Pointe and graduated in 1971 from Grosse Pointe South High School, where he had served as student body president. His father, John Montgomery, worked for Chrysler as a public relations executive. His older brother, James Montgomery, 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). His other brother, John Montgomery, also worked in the music industry before becoming an entrepreneur in the Metro Detroit area.
He graduated from Michigan State University in 1976 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. He moved to Detroit after graduating and remained a resident of Detroit for the remainder of his life.
Montgomery died from a heart attack at the age of 63 on July 18, 2016 at Harper University Hospital in Detroit. Friends reported that his health had been declining in the preceding years.
He worked as public relations director of America's Thanksgiving Parade. He was serving in this role in 1989 when the parade moved back to the Gnome block and in 1990, when for the first time a balloon escaped from the parade.
In 1991, he joined Henry D. Messer and John Monahan in founding the Triangle Foundation (now Equality Michigan). He worked as the organization's president, interim executive director, and eventually executive director until September 2007.
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. The organization soon expanded to include work on discrimination cases, and then political advocacy following the closure of the Michigan Organization for Human Rights. 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.
He made the formal announcement of his departure as executive director at the organization's 2007 annual dinner on September 29, 2007.
Following the murder of his partner, Michael, in 1984, Montgomery began to engage in LGBT advocacy. 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". As of July 2016[update], Michael's murder remains unsolved.
Montgomery was widely quoted in media outlets on LGBT issues and high-profile LGBT-related crimes, such as the murder of Scott Amedure in 1995, and murder of Matthew Shepard. National LGBT organizations paid for Montgomery to attend the trials of Shepard's killers. In 2001, Montgomery was a featured participant in an A&E Network documentary about the Matthew Shepard case.
Montgomery was the co-chair of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), for which he was also a national spokesperson. He was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes, the Bias Crime Response Task Force of the Michigan Commission on Civil Rights, and a board member of the ACLU of Michigan.
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. 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.
In 2004, he helped organize opposition to Michigan's same-sex marriage constitutional amendment, passed later that year.
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.
In 1997, he received a Golden Apple Award from the Roeper School.
In May 2003, Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm honored his work with a special tribute, calling him a "hero and living legend". 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".
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