Stonewall Veteran, Drag King Icon Stormé DeLarverie Dies At 93

By Lynn De La Cruz

Originally published on Advocate.com May 27 2014 7:04 PM ET

Stormé DeLarverie, a longtime member of the Stonewall Veteran’s Association and pioneer LGBT activist, died Saturday morning. DeLaverie was 93 years old.

The Bronx LGBTQ Center called DeLarverie the “Rosa Parks” of the gay rights movement in a statement Tuesday.

DeLarverie was born in New Orleans on December 24, 1920, and is best known for having a role in the popular drag performance group, Jewel Box Revue. The group was comprised of a dozen drag queens and DeLarverie, as King Stormé, the sole drag king.

While records of the 1969 Stonewall Riots have often been described as incomplete, DeLarverie is best known for her involvement at the 1969 uprising, which followed a police raid on a New York City LGBT bar. The event is often credited as launching the modern fight for LGBT equality.

At a Stonewall Veterans event, DeLarverie recalled, “A cop said to me, ‘Move faggot’, thinking that I was a gay guy. I said, ‘I will not! And, don’t you dare touch me.’ With that, the cop shoved me and I instinctively punched him right in his face. He bled! He was then dropping to the ground — not me!” Two weeks after the rebellion, DeLarverie was a part of the official formation of the Stonewall Veteran’s Association on July 11, 1969.

DeLarverie was a vital member of the Stonewall Veteran’s Association, rising through the ranks to eventually become the organization’s vice president. The Imperial Kings and Queens of Greater New York, a sister organization to the Stonewall Veteran’s Association, also recognized DeLaverie’s work in the early drag scene.

The New York Times ran a piece on DeLarverie in 2010, detailing the activist’s years struggling with evictions, and hospitalization after being found “disoriented and dehydrated” at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, DeLarverie's longtime home. Despite these hardships, DeLarverie still reminisced the days of being one of the first advocates for gay rights.

A memorial service will be held this Thursday, May 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home in New York City.

 

Editor's note, 5/28: language in the article was updated to reflect the unclear records of many individuals' involvement at the Stonewall Uprising.