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An interview with lesbian Stonewall veteran Stormé DeLarverie

The conversation turned to the night in June of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn where she made history. Quite a few friends, writers and historians over the years have identified her as the tough cross dressing lesbian who was clubbed by the NYPD, which evoked enough indignation and anger to spur the crowd to action. She was identified as the Stonewall Lesbian in Charles Kaiser’s book The Gay Metropolis, and her scuffle with the police has been mentioned a few times in passing by The New York Times in the past couple of decades. Then in the January 2008 issue of Curve Magazine she identified herself as the Stonewall Lesbian in a detailed interview with writerPatrick Hinds, an excerpt of which is below:

”[The officer] then yelled, ‘I said, move along, faggot.’ I think he thought I was a boy. When I refused, he raised his nightstick and clubbed me in the face.” It was then that the crowd surged and started attacking the police with whatever they could find, she said.

I asked my last question hesitantly. “Have you heard of the Stonewall Lesbian? The woman who was clubbed outside the bar but was never identified?” DeLarverie nodded, rubbing her chin in the place where she received 14 stitches after the beating. “Yes,” she said quietly. “They were talking about me.”

And then, almost as an afterthought, I asked, “Why did you never come forward to take credit for what you did?”

She thought for a couple of seconds before she answered, “Because it was never anybody’s business.”

I asked her if she still remembered that night. She answered in the affirmative. After the cop hit her on the head, she socked him with her fist. “I hit him,” she said. “He was bleeding.”

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Photo: Sam Bassett

You know, as a cishet, nothing confuses me more than Heterophobia and cisphobia, like, 

. NO ONE’S EVER BEEN DENIED A JOB FOR BEING CIS

. NO ONE’S BEEN MUDERED FOR BEING CIS AND STRAIGHT

. NO ONES BEEN CALLED SLURS FOR BEING CIS A ND STRAIGHT

. NO ONE HAS BEEN BULLIED TO THE POINT WHERE THEY HAVE O BRING A WEAPON TO SCHOOL FOR BEING CIS AND STRAIGHT

. NO ONE HAS BEEN DENIED SERVICE AT A SHELTER FOR BEING CIS OR STRAIGHT

.NO ONE HAS BEEN SYTAMITCALLY OPPRESSED FOR BEING CISHET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Radicalesbians

1970s lesbians were being stifled by the Women’s Movement because of their sexuality, and by the Gay Liberation Front because of their gender…

The Radicalesbians decided to branch off and revel in their radicalness… they ended up dramatically challenging heteronormativity and, subsequently, sex-based gender roles in ways that no other Feminists previously had. They harnessed all their assumed weirdness and made a game-changing movement out of it. They moved Feminism forward even after the movement rejected them. … more >

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Storme DeLaverie, singer/entertainer/activist

During the 1950s and ’60s he toured the black theater circuit as the only drag king of the Jewel Box Revue, America’s first racially integrated female impersonation show.

He was in the Stonewall Inn the night of June 27, 1969, and fought back against police helping to spark the Stonewall riots.

In the 1980s and ’90s Stormé worked as a bouncer for several lesbian bars in New York City.

Stormé is featured in the documentary Storme: The Lady of the Jewel Box.

Watch on commiepinkofag.org

Glad To Be Gay | Tom Robinson

[ Live Performance at the Secret Policeman’s Ball, London, 1979 ]

Recorded live at the Secret Policeman’s Ball benefit concert for Amnesty International, Her Majestys Theatre, London, 30 June 1979.

The particular venom of the version, and the inclusion of the verse about Peter Wells, are due to Amnesty’s refusal to support gay prisoners.

In other parts of the world, and even in the UK only 12 years earlier, people of Tom’s sexuality were imprisoned.

Amnesty now actively supports the human rights of LGBT people.

For more information about the song, see the Glad To Be Gay website. http://gladtobegay.net

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Dewey’s, pre-Stonewall fight for equality, Philadelphia, 1965

In 1965, the management of the Dewey’s at 219 S 17th Street near Rittenhouse Square (now Little Pete’s) made it clear that they would refuse service “to a large number of homosexuals and persons wearing non-conformist clothing.” Modeled on the current African-American civil rights protests, on Sunday, April 25th, more than 150 protestors, black, white, trans, lesbian and gay staged a sit-in, an amazing thing to do in Philadelphia in 1965, four years before the Stonewall riots. Police arrived and three of the protestors who refused to leave were arrested. They were young; two males and a female.

Journalist and activist Clark Polak and the Janus Society, a local gay rights group, were notified. Over the next week, in support of the protestors, they distributed some 1,500 leaflets outside the restaurant [photo, above].On Sunday, May 2, they staged a second sit-in. This time, when the police were called, they spoke with the protestors and simply left, declining to take any action at all, [see photo, bottom, of the police at Dewey’s in 1965]. The management agreed to end the discrimination and the protestors left, having staged the first successful gay rights sit-in in the country. This marked an important step in the struggle for LGBT people to lay claim to the right to public space in 1960s Philadelphia.

Boom Boom for Soup, 1982Rink Foto.

from San Fransisco: The Making of a Queer Mecca 2009 exhibition
Curated by Julia Haas with the assistance of Jonathan D. Katz

Sister Boom Boom revs up to run for San Francisco supervisor, “just when you thought it was safe to go into a voting booth.” She campaigned aggressively under the occupation “Nun of the Above” in 1982.

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