To kick off LGBT+ History Month, I have chosen to honour the inspirational Stormé DeLarverie. Now, whilst I’m sure most of you will have heard of the Stonewall Riots that kicked off the movement for gay rights, you may not have heard of this wonderful woman. The history books seem to have forgotten her along the way, but I will do my best to bring her story forward.
Singer, drag-king, bouncer – DeLarverie was many things, yet her greatest achievement was being one of the earliest leaders in the Stonewall riots. Whether this butch lesbian threw the first punch at the Stonewall Riots, or not (there is some historical debate), is irrelevant. What is relevant is her devotion to protecting fellow lesbians in the area, showing no tolerance for intolerance. Not only did she have to fight her battles being a gay woman in the 60s, but as a woman of colour, she struggled with identity.
DeLarverie did not let her identity rule her, instead she used her uniqueness to flourish as a jazz-performer and bent the rules of gender to become one of the most infamous drag kings. She is an icon in LGBT+ history, and should be praised for everything she did for us. As a lesbian myself, I can only express my gratitude for her role in pushing for a future for women like me.
Featured Image Credit 📷: Sharon McCutcheon