picTommy Burns ca. 1976

Tommy Burns

January 6, 1946 - August 20, 20221

Tom Burns was the first chairman of the Gay Alliance for Equality, beginning in the summer (probably May or June) of 1972.2

He also volunteered at TheeKlub in (and lived in one of the apartments in) the GreenLantern Building. Tom and DavidGray were close friends at the time.

Tommy said, “My goal at the time was to educate people. I didn’t want people to go through what I had gone through, growing up gay, thinking I was the only one. Everybody hated you, even god and all that nonsense. And I thought, ‘if I could help somebody have an easier time coming out than I, that’s what I’m here for.”3

Tom was also a volunteer on the GayLine in the early years (1972 to 74-75).

He operated the AlternateBookShop on the top floor of the GreenLantern Building in about 1974 - 75. "I bought many books there. It was open only in the evenings since Tom worked at the Victoria General Hospital during the day (in the laundry department, I believe.)" says NilsClaussen?.

Tom was an early and ardent supporter of Dignity, the organization for gay and lesbian Catholics. After 1976 he was part of a Dignity Chapter in Halifax, along with Father MikeMacDonald.4

Memorial Reception

RegGiles writes:

Last night was the reception for Tommy Burns born January 6, 1946 for those that don't know and passed away on August 22 at the age of 76. Tommy was the first chairperson of GAE " Gay Alliance for Equality " 1972 and also owned the Alternate Bookstore which was originally in the Green Lantern Building on Barrington Street and then moved into the Turret Club building across the street. He was a lover of cats. I think his role in the community was never given enough mention, he should have been an honorary parade marshal. I don't think he wanted that, but he needs to be bestowed with the highest praise for what he "and others " started so many years ago when doing what he and others did meant danger maybe even putting their lives on the line. I am Humbled. It was small group of about 20 that came in along with Tommy's best friend David Gray who flew in from Toronto. I was afraid that the ceremony would have too much ceremony but it turned out to be a comfortable walk down the years of Tommy's life with family members and old friends. A viewing in a separate room was arranged for people like me who just need to remember as we saw them back in time. After socializing for a while David gave talk about he and his relationship with Tommy, how it lasted even though they lived in different provinces, his voice cracking at times but he got through with what he wanted to say. A few others spoke and there were a few revelations of things I did not know.5

In June, 2022

Here is the the video from the June, 2022 CBC interview:


2. NilsClaussen?
3. June, 2022 interview with MikaelaGorman?
4. Nils, ibid
5. August 26, 2022 TurretMemories post by Reg