Stormé DeLarverie (December 24, 1920 – May 24, 2014), Chelsea…

Stormé DeLarverie (December 24, 1920 – May 24, 2014), Chelsea Hotel, New York City, 2010. Photo © Alice O’Malley.
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In the 1950s and 1960s, Stormé DeLarverie, who died three years ago today, made history as the emcee (and only drag king) of the Jewel Box Revue, North America’s first racially integrated drag revue. DeLarverie also took part in the historic Stonewall Riots in June 1969, though the specifics of her participation at Stonewall are the topic of some debate.
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It is well-established, David Carter explains, that the catalyst for the riots—the point at which the crowd in Christopher Park turned its rage on the police—was the prolonged struggle between police and one particular butch lesbian. As the crowd watched, police subdued the woman and, as she was forced into a paddy wagon, she yelled, “Why don’t you guys do something!” 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.”
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For many years, some argued that the person at the center of the mayhem was Stormé DeLarverie; the truth, however, is that DeLarverie was a well-known figure (a legend, some say) in the queer community by 1969, and there would be no question of her had it been DeLarverie.
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Nonetheless, DeLarverie was among those credited with fighting back early and with particular intensity, thus taking the brunt of police brutality in the early hours of the Stonewall Riots.
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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.”
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Stormé DeLarverie died in her sleep on May 24, 2014; she was ninety-three. #lgbthistory #HavePrideInHistory (at Hotel Chelsea)