Stormé DeLarverie is often referred to as the “Rosa Parks” of the gay community. She was born in New Orleans in 1920 to a white father and black mother. Because of this she endured much racism, in addition to other prejudices such as sexism and homophobia….but she fought back with an incredible life…..
In most remembrances of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, it’s largely focused on the gay men and drag queens that were part of the fight back against police raiding the Stonewall Inn. But also a presence that night was Stormé, an out lesbian performer and drag king who was clubbed by police outside of the bar, and who retorted with a punch of her own.
“I hit him,” “He was bleeding.” she stated.
Stormé died on May 24, 2014. She was 93-years-old.
A mainstay in the NYC gay community, Stormé was the focus of a 1987 documentary, Stormé, The Lady of the Jewel Box which chronicled her cross-dressing musical career. From our 2010 profile:
“There were around 25 guys and me.” The men performed in women’s clothes, and she, the only female in the troupe, performed dressed as a man. In an era still marked by segregation, the Revue featured both black and white performers and attracted a mainstream mixed race crowd, playing regular shows at the Apollo Theater and traveling the country to perform in major cities. Even after the group disbanded, it continued to live on in popular culture…. DeLarverie mentioned a few times that she used to wear men’s clothes around New York City. “I was doing it, and then [other lesbians] started doing it!” she said.
Despite living in a nursing home for the last few years of her life, Stormé continued to be a part of the community. She worked as a bouncer at the lesbian club Henrietta Hudson until she was 85 and hosted an annual party called The Gay Bar People’s Ball. She also dedicated time to performing at benefits for women and children who are victims of domestic violence….
“Somebody has to care. People say, ‘Why do you still do that?’ I said, ‘It’s very simple. If people didn’t care about me when I was growing up, with my mother being black, raised in the south.’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t be here.’”
RIP Stormé DeLarverie.
With extracts taken from: http://www.afterellen.com/storme-delarverie-passes-away-the-community-loses-a-legend/05/2014/