How Michelle Ross, a Legendary Drag Queen, Died: Cause of Death Revealed

Michelle Ross, a Jamaican Canadian drag queen who was active from 1974 until her death in 2021, was considered one of the key icons of the LGBTQ community in Toronto, especially for Black Canadian members of the community. She was known for her electrifying performances, her kindness, and her style. She passed away on March 27, 2021, at the age of 66. Her cause of death is not known.

A Life of Glamour and Talent

Michelle Ross was born as Earl Barrington Shaw on August 5, 1954, in Jamaica. She performed in drag for the first time at Toronto’s Club Manatee in 1974, to Dionne Warwick’s “Anyone Who Had a Heart”. In Toronto, she was a regular performer at bars in the Church and Wellesley gay village, and a frequent performer at Pride Toronto’s Blockorama parties. She also performed internationally, including a six-year stint as part of the cast of a touring production of La Cage aux Folles. She had small acting roles in the films Outrageous!, Seek, Divas: Love Me Forever, and Our Dance of Revolution.

Throughout her career, she was known for performing to the music of disco and soul music divas such as Patti LaBelle, Gloria Gaynor and Gladys Knight, but was most famous for her performances of Diana Ross songs. As of 2018, she had performed on stage at least 15,000 times. Dancer and choreographer Hollywood Jade got his start choreographing numbers for Ross. She once expressed her drag philosophy about the difference between men and women as “Both sides are equally part of the glamour. I see them as stories that are ready for a makeover.” Her signature move was to remove her wig at the end of her set, to call attention to drag as a performance.

A Legacy of Inspiration and Love

In 2019, she was named as one of 69 key Canadian LGBTQ icons in the Super Queeroes multimedia project. Following the announcement of her death on March 28, 2021, statements of tribute were issued by a variety of influential figures including Toronto mayor John Tory, writer Rinaldo Walcott and drag queens Brooke Lynn Hytes and Priyanka, and organizations including Pride Toronto, The 519, Glad Day Bookshop and the Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter. In the third season of the drag competition series Canada’s Drag Race, competitor Jada Shada Hudson paid tribute to Ross as a trailblazer and inspiration.

Michelle Ross cause of death remains unknown, but her legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those who knew her and loved her. She was a true drag royalty who wowed audiences with her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. She will be missed by many, but never forgotten. Rest in power, Michelle Ross.

Doms Desk

Leave a Comment