Kevin Sheard, activist, drag institution and dear friend to so many, died peacefully at his home on Feb 2.
Originally from Winnipeg, Sheard moved to Toronto in 1979 where he worked as an actor, director, producer, writer and teacher.
He began his activist work with the AIDS Committee of Toronto in 1983. In 1990, he co-produced Phyllis Diller in Concert, a fundraiser for Casey House and Sick Kids Hospital.
His drag persona, Sophie de Lee, was an entertainment institution in Toronto’s gay community for more than 14 years. She was elected Empress V of the Imperial Court of Toronto (TICOT) in 1991 and was a grand marshal of the 1994 Toronto Pride celebration.
Sheard founded the Pink Toronto Awards, the Toronto Association for Gay and Lesbian Arts, Recreation and Culture (TAGLARC) Theatricals and the Queere Shakespeare Series. In 2001, Sheard became the first single male approved by the Toronto Children’s Aid Society as an adoptive parent.
“Kevin saved my life on many occasions in 27 years of battling HIV/AIDS and much more,” writes friend George MacIntyre. “Thank you for 20-some wonderful years of friendship. I’m sure going to miss you. Your spirit will never die.”