James Osmond Brown II 1960 - 2019
Detroit and its LGBT Community and the has lost a prominent leader, mentor, and advocate touching the lives of so many for 35 years. James Osmond Brown, II
-- known by most as “Diamond Jim
” died at home of congestive heart failure in early February with his faithful rescue dog Diamond at his side. Diamond was Jim's girl. "I rescued her but sometimes I think it's the other way around" he often said.
Jim was owner of the now shuttered Diamond Jim’s Saloon
catering to men and women from the Country & Western, Leather, Line Dancing, and Bear crowds.
Born in Highland Park, MI was a proud attendee of Cass Tech High School
. His passion for architecture brought him to UCLA in 1979 where he also found the freedom to “come out." Returning to the Motor City in 1984 he quickly became a central figure as Mr. Leather Detroit
and Mr. Leather Michigan
-- then to Chicago’s IML for the first time.
James changed the cultural landscape of Southwest Michigan when he founded MIGRA (Michigan International Gay Rodeo Association)
in 1994. He enriched the local economy producing 5 rodeos at the famed Michigan State Fair Grounds
. IGRA (The International Gay Rodeo Association)
was enriched by his service. He was on the board of AFFIRMATIONS
, supported MCC Detroit
and even put in his bid for a seat on The Detroit City Council
A larger than life personality, strength and stature made him an accomplished Bareback Bronc Buster, Bull Rider, and Steer Wrestler having won over 20 buckles overall. He competed the Gay games and coached the L.A. Wrestling team. Ultimately he won the silver medal in the Masters Heavyweight Division in the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.
Not to be limited to athletics alone, he won 5 additional awards in competitive dancing, sang in the Michigan Opera Theater Chorus
and was exceptionally proud to have used his rich basso playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at 17.
But it is his run as owner of Diamond Jim’s Saloon
that had he may have made the greatest impact. The Annual Leather Weekend of Caring
served as a fundraiser every Easter weekend for Detroit area charities. Diamond Jim's events benefited homeless shelters, local non profits, and continued the spirit of participation so long a hallmark of leather life and its heritage in Southern Michigan
He survived a battle with cancer and devastating car accident which lead to a slow withdrawal from the community and the support many of his loving friends. His facebook page has hundreds of posts asking if he's been all right and to get in touch. He knew that he was loved by many but the loss of his mother in 2016 was too difficult to bear. Recently he spoke of what his next chapter might be and was looking forward a return to public life this summer.Funds are needed immediately to cover the costs of a simple cremation, to defray the modest costs of a simple traditional "home going."
His family loving (Kay Brown, David Brown, and Kellie Reynolds
) will be receiving guests weekend of March 11th (details to be announced).It was James wish that his beloved Diamond live out her final days at home
. Funds will be used to honor this wish providing food, a daily visit from a neighborhood dog minder and other basic needs. Vet care has been provided through the Michigan Humane Society
by another Detroit and LGBT community leader who proved that there really is support and community in the Motor City.
James' work and legacy will be further honored the week of his birthday, August 2, 2019 with a celebratory event in the tradition of Diamond Jim’s Saloon. A fundraiser!
Proceeds in excess of the actual funeral expenses will go to the James O. Brown II Legacy Fund
and the first annual Diamond Jim Leadership Award
. The fund and the award will serve to further preserve (and digitize) the history of Detroit's LGBT Community Leaders of days gone by while honoring today’s leaders as they shape the future.
Final expenses are being disbursed by Brett Reynolds
and a small committee of Jim's friends and colleagues will guide the formation of the Legacy Fund.