Stormé DeLarverie is widely credited with being the person who ‘threw the first punch’ of the Stonewall riots, sparking 5 days of riots which began the gay liberation movement. She* was born in New Orleans, to an African American mother and a white father. A fixture in NYC’s arts and LGBTQ community she lived at the Chelsea Hotel for a number of years and was a trendsetter in androgynous fashion.
A gay civil rights icon, she was also an entertainer, who performed and hosted at the Apollo Theater and Radio City Music Hall. She worked for much of her life as an MC, singer, bouncer, bodyguard and volunteer street patrol worker, the “guardian of lesbians in the Village.”
She also organized and performed at benefits for battered women and children. When asked about why she chose to do this work, she replied, “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.’”
* I do not know what her preferred pronouns would be, but my research always saw Stormé referred to as ‘She’.
This piece measures 10” x 8” oil on panel.