Storme DeLarverie, Early Leader in the [LGBT] Rights Movement, Dies at 93

Storme DeLarverie, a singer, [drag king] and bouncer who may or may not have thrown the first punch at the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, but who was indisputably one of the first and most assertive members of the modern [LGBT] rights movement, died on Saturday in Brooklyn. She was 93…

Tall, androgynous and armed — she held a state gun permit — Ms. DeLarverie roamed lower Seventh and Eighth Avenues and points between into her 80s, patrolling the sidewalks and checking in at lesbian bars. She was on the lookout for what she called “ugliness”: any form of intolerance, bullying or abuse of her “baby girls.” Ms. DeLarverie had grown up in the South, of mixed race, and spent part of the first half of her life singing and performing as a man. Identity, for her, had been especially complicated, and she did not want others persecuted for theirs.

“I can spot ugly in a minute,” she said in a 2009 interview for Columbia University’s NYC in Focus journalism project. “No people even pull it around me that know me. They’ll just walk away, and that’s a good thing to do because I’ll either pick up the phone or I’ll nail you.”

Storme DeLarverie (her first name sounds like stormy; her last name is pronounced de-LAR-ver-ee) was born in 1920 in New Orleans. She celebrated her birthday on Dec. 24, though she told people that she was not certain that that was the actual day because of the circumstances of her birth. Her mother, who was black, was a servant in the house of her father, who was white…

There was a long period in Chicago, where, she told friends, she was a bodyguard for mobsters. From the mid-1950s through the 1960s Ms. DeLarverie was the M.C. of the Jewel Box Revue, billed as “an unusual variety show.” She dressed as a man; the rest of the cast members, all men, dressed as women…

No immediate family members survive. Ms. Cannistraci said that Ms. DeLarverie had told her that she had lived for 25 years with a dancer named Diana, who died in the 1970s, and that Ms. DeLarverie had always carried her photograph.

Ms. Cannistraci and another longtime friend, Michele Zalopany, became Ms. DeLarverie’s guardians a few years ago, after Ms. DeLarverie had endured years of problems — legal, housing, mental health — that ended with her admission to a nursing home in Brooklyn…

“She literally walked the streets of downtown Manhattan like a gay superhero,” Ms. Cannistraci said. “She was not to be messed with by any stretch of the imagination.”

Seventh Avenue Looking South from 35th Street, Manhattan by Berenice Abbott

Paired: Berenice Abbott + Lydia Davis

In the Garment District

A man has been making deliveries in the garment district for years now: every morning he takes the same garments on a moving rack through the streets to a shop and every evening takes them back again to the warehouse. This happens because there is a dispute between the shop and the warehouse which cannot be settled: the shop denies it ever ordered the clothes, which are badly made and of cheap material and by now years out of style; while the warehouse will not take responsibility because the clothes are paid for and of no use to the wholesalers. To the man all this is nothing. They are not his clothes, he gets paid for this work, and anyway he intends to leave the company soon, though the right moment has not yet come.

Lydia Davis

Today’s Paired was suggested by 20x200 collector Andrew Long, who kindly provided some extra context about Lydia Davis when he sent along this pairing:

“Davis’ works are more often referred to as short stories, but they have also been considered poetry and prose poems, and have been included in numerous poetry anthologies and quarterlies over the decades."In the Garment District” appeared in her 1997 book “Almost No Memory,” but was apparently first published in the early eighties. (PDF) Ms. Abbott’s photograph shows Manhattan south of the Garment District, but was in fact taken from a building that was firmly within the southern border of the District.“

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’re introducing a new series called Paired, which will feature a 20x200 edition alongside a poem selected by a team member, friend, or collector each day in April. Submissions are welcome! Please write us at

Sally Ride made history and inspired several generations of women when NASA chose her for the seventh shuttle mission. Lynn Sherr discusses the life of this fascinating woman whose life intersected with revolutionary social and scientific changes in America. A book signing will follow the program.

Join us on Wednesday, June 25 at noon. in the William McGowan Theater. Watch live online ( or join us in person (enter the National Archives Building through the Special Events entrance at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue).

“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives with the generous support of Lead Sponsor AT&T. Major additional support provided by the Lawrence F. O’Brien Family and members of the Board of the Foundation for the National Archives.

Family and educational programming related to “Making Their Mark”is sponsored in part by Fahrney’s Pens, Cross, and Parker Pen Company - Newell Rubbermaid.