Drag queen Michelle Ross, an icon in Toronto’s gay village, has died.
The news came in tributes on social media from Pride Toronto, Glad Day Bookstore, city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and others over the past two days.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the legendary Michelle Ross has passed away,” Pride Toronto tweeted. “We’ll cherish her memory forever.”
The cause of her sudden but peaceful death death has not been given.
Ross was born in Jamaica and was believed to be in her mid-60s when she died in her North York home.
It is with a heavy heart that we share the legendary Michelle Ross has passed away.
Michelle wowed audiences at Pride Festivals past with electrifying performances and this year’s Rise Up! event. We’ll cherish her memory for years to come.
Classy. Elegant. Glamorous. Miss Ross. pic.twitter.com/nSwh29btgT
— Pride Toronto (@PrideToronto) March 29, 2021
Ross began her career in 1974 at Toronto’s Club Manitee and has performed at clubs in Tornto and on stages around the world. She impersonated pop culture divas — her specialty being Diana Ross, though she also covered many others including Whitney Houston and Dionne Warwick.
She gave “electrifying performances” at Pride festivals and at this year’s Rise Up! event, Pride Toronto noted.
Ross recently has been appearing regularly at the Crews and Tangos club on Church Street. Friends and fans have been placing flowers, photographs and well-wishes on the front steps of the club.
Councillor Wong-Tam called Ross’s death a great loss for the community.
“She was a trailblazing icon who touched and changed so many lives,” Wong-Tam said online. “May we remember her always — fierce, kind and embracing of all. To our queen and most gifted artist, may you rest in community power.”
LGBTQ bookstore, Glad Day Bookshop, said, “Michelle was legendary for her kindness, friendship, commitment, style and raw talent. May she continue to inspire us all.
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