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Stormé DeLarverie
(December 24, 1920 - May 14, 2014) U.S.A.

Stormé DeLarverie

Master of Ceremonies, bodyguard, Singer, bouncer, drag king


Stormé DeLarverie was a butch lesbian whose purported scuffle with police, many eyewitnesses recount, was the defining moment that incited the Stonewall riots, spurring the crowd to action. She was born in New Orleans, to an African American mother and a white father. She is remembered as a gay civil rights icon and entertainer, who graced the stages of the Apollo Theater and Radio City Music Hall. She worked for much of her life as an MC, singer, bouncer, bodyguard and volunteer street patrol worker, the "guardian of lesbians in the Village." She is known as "the Rosa Parks of the gay community

Stormé DeLarverieIn the 1950s and 1960s, Stormé DeLarverie made history as the only drag king of the Jewel Box Revue, North America's first racially integrated drag revue. It is well-established that the catalyst for the riots - the point at which the crowd in Christopher Park turned its rage on the police - was the attempt by police to arrest a butch lesbian and her prolonged fight to resist. As the crowd watched, police struggled to subdue the woman; as she was forced into a paddy wagon, the woman yelled, "Why don't you guys do something!" And, at that point, the crowd erupted, forcing the police to retreat back into the bar, and starting "the high point of the violence on the part of the crowd."

For many years, gay lore had it that the butch lesbian at the center of the mayhem was Stormé DeLarverie; the truth, however, is that DeLarverie was a well-known figure in the gay community by 1969, and there would be no question of the woman's identity had it been DeLarverie. Nonetheless, DeLarverie, along with a core group of butch lesbians, drag queens, and transwomen (most of whom were of color), is credited with fighting back early and fighting back with particular intensity, thus taking the brunt of police brutality in the early hours of the Stonewall Riots.

Stormé DeLarverie
Stormé DeLarverie outside The Cubby Hole , New York City, 1986. Photo © Joan E. Biren

In the decades that followed, DeLarverie played a large role in the queer liberation movement; as her New York Times obituary put it, "she literally walked the streets of downtown Manhattan like a gay superhero." Stormé DeLarverie died in her sleep; she was ninety-three.


Source: http://lgbt-history-archive.tumblr.com/ - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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