TommyMiller

picCa. 1980. JimDeYoung photo.

1940 -- 2020

Madame Sugar, Tommy Miller, passed peacefully at St Joseph's Hospice, Sarnia, April 30, 2020 at the age of 79. The last part of her life was spent with niece Sheri and family. She was happy and comfortable in the new home and brought much joy and lots of baking.

Sugar's dominance of the drag stage in Halifax in the '70s through '90s was legend. Tommy was one of the founding members of the Gay Allance for Equality in 1973. He was one of the gay men living in the not-entirely-legal offices-turned-apartments in the Green Lantern Building in the '70s when it was a hub of the gay community.1 She was also a founding member of the drag society, Gay Artists & Musicians Entertainers Society in 1981 and a member of performing group, Sisters Elite & Company.

picca. 1984, Rumours, in RandyKennedy's dress.

She is featured prominently in the early history of Halifax's LGB Community, Before The Parade. You can find all the pages which reference her in the index.

Reg Giles says: I met Tommy at TheeKlub run by DavidGray, Tommy was sitting on one of the boxes by the dancefloor. He was wearing a dark suit and a fedora and sipping on his rye and ginger. For a short man he had a commanding presence (a don't fuck with me BITCH!) type. Tommy is a say it as I see it person, he would often come off as quite brash one minute and the next a quiet spoken (weirdly like Clark Kent.)Tommy was a volunteer at The Turret from time to time, he was also known as =="THE GRAND DAME or the DRAG GODMOTHER of all the YOUNGER KID QUEENS"==. Tommy was always ready and willing to help with the makeup or hair or whatever was needed by one of the kids. Using "SUGAR" as his stage name, would mime to classics like "This Is My Life by Shirley Bassey" or "Ertha Kitt" receiving a well deserved standing ovation to her as a "grand dame."

RobinMetcalfe writes: One of my memories of Tommy was the brilliant buffet he organised for the delegates at the October 1977 Atlantic Gay Conference. There's a picture of the team, here. Thanks for the beauty you brought into many people's lives, Tommy.2

PaigeTurner writes: Tommy Miller (Sugar or MadameSugar?) what an amazing person. She performed in the city for years, and when I started to do drag she was involved but not often. I remember Sugar OR Mama for doing a Great Rita MacNeil? bare foot with a hat on in the old Rumours. She walked out, took off her shoes and just swayed like Rita would. Tommy was and is a great person to know. Full of wisdom, knowlwege and everything else that A baby drag queen needs to know.

I remember the first time I saw Tommy in drag... (I had met him out of drag before that) He had a *lot* of blonde hair, which I knew he couldn't have grown himself that fast. I said the first thing that came to mind: "Oh, I *love* what you've done with somebody else's hair!" First time someone ever called me "BITCH!" to my face. -- GrizzLeBear

1974 to 1977: the pre-eminent drag queen of the era was Tommy Miller--if s/he is still around s/he would be a treasure trove of information. -- NilsClausson

picSugar

Tommy is mentioned many times in the Halifax Rainbow Encyclopedia and in the book, Before The Parade.


Today so many memories of Tommy are coming back to me so I am going to share something that Tommy told me that I am sure many of you do not know. Before Tommy moved to Halifax from Montreal, he was doing shows in the old gay scene of Montreal. He was going out with a guy who had ties to the Montreal Mafia at the time and one night while Tommy was performing, some thugs came into the club and shot his boyfriend dead. Tommy ran off the stage and headed home where he stayed in hiding afraid they would come for him next. It was shortly after that he packed what he could and fled to Halifax out of fear that they still may be looking for him. I really think that fear is what kept him away from Montreal for so long except for short visits to see his family. Tommy told me this in secret making me swear never to tell anyone which I have done until now.3 -- RandyKennedy


I finally got word from his sister that he has indeed passed away. He was quite ill for a couple years and finally passed on some months back. Tommy was known by many names and played many roles: a friend, for me at one time a mentor, a show queen, and yes, even a bitch. He took me in when I first left home and also started me on the road to be a performer. He could be funny, cold, kind and cruel but no matter how is remembered he was also a staple in the LGBT community. He will be missed.4 -- RandyKennedy


As of Friday, September 23, 2005, TommyMiller packed up his life and moved back home to Montreal, Quebec. He will be greatly missed by all who know him. Good Luck Tommy and enjoy your retirement!


March 11, 2020: RandyKennedy writes: Good afternoon folks , well I am happy to say I got a call today from Tommy Miller . He sounded great and is the same old Mother Miller . He is living in a small town in Ontario and asked me to say HI to you all .


picSugar (TommyMiller) at [[The Turret]], 1981

I am the one who made the dress, hat and did the makeup for Sugar in this pic, she was a Grand ol Gal! -- LilyChampagne (RandyKennedy)

Here, Miss Miller was reflecting her disposition during this time frame. Bitchy & not happy -- JimDeYoung

Footnotes:

2. May 5, 2020 Facebook posting
3. March 31, 2017 Turret Memories Facebook Group Posting
4. March 31, 2017 Turret Memories Facebook Group Posting