Stormé DeLarverie passed away last weekend. When I texted a friend this morning to see if she wanted to go to his (*) wake with me, she had no idea of who I was talking about and joked that I was only going to pick up mature butches. Sadly, many in our community don’t know who Stormé was.
I remember reading the New York Times’ article about Stormé in 2010. He had fallen at home (the famous Chelsea Hotel), he had been in a nursing home for a few months, and he had dementia. If I remember it correctly, right around that time there was a fundraiser at Henrietta Hudson to help with his bills. For a second, I entertained the thought of getting a get well card and even going to visit him. But it never happened – after all, I had a life and I wasn’t about to do for a stranger something I hadn’t done for my own grandparents so I convinced myself of that “he wouldn’t want to be seen like that.”
Now I regret not doing it. Not because it was the right thing to do or because we (young lesbians) owe it to the older generations not only to know their/our history, but also to show gratitude and do everything within our reach to make sure they are comfortable in their last years if they don’t have a bio or chosen family around them. I regret it because I’ll never know whether he was butch or trans and can’t throw a proper tantrum over mass and LGBT media’s ignoring the fact that he was butch. I can’t confidently claim him as a male ID butch, thus, one of our own (am I making this about me? Maybe. I’m an only child, a Taurus, and a femme. Isn’t it always about me?).
I still have a bone to pick: I have read in a couple of articles that he wasn’t really at Stonewall the night of the uprising. Quoting from Stonewall’s website:
Stormé on Stonewall
“It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil rights disobedience — it wasn’t no damn riot,” declared Stormé at a public and videographed SVA-sponsored “Stonewall Symposium,” referring to the historic 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Stormé was a part of the uprising on the very first night, Friday, June 27th. “The cops were parading patrons out of the front door of The Stonewall at about two o’ clock in the morning. I saw this one boy being taken out by three cops, only one in uniform. Three to one! I told my pals, ‘I know him! That’s Williamson, my friend Sonia Jane’s friend.’ Williamson briefly broke loose but they grabbed the back of his jacket and pulled him right down on the cement street. One of them did a drop kick on him. Another cop senselessly hit him from the back. Right after that, 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!”
Stormé said he was there. Stonewall confirms he was there. What else is there to know? Who are these historians who question Stormé’s role in LGBT history? Are they gay? Are they straight? Can they please stop trying to erase the role of women in Stonewall and history in general? It’s 2014. Lesbians, transfolks, and drag Queens/Kings shouldn’t have to take the backseat to gay men.
(info copied and pasted from different sources)
– Stormé: A Celebration of Life. Greenwich Village Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker Street @ 6th Avenue, tonight from 7-9pm. Champagne reception with light fare at Henrietta Hudson right after, 9pm-midnight.
– To send a sympathy card or make a donation in Stormé’s name: STONEWALL Veterans’ Association, 70-A Greenwich Av., Suite 120, New York, NY 10011. Please indicate “Stormé” in the memo section.
– Official Tribute to King Stormé DeLarverie at the “STONEWALL V.A. 45th Conference” at the LGBT Center (208 W 13th Street, New York, NY 10011) on Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 5 p.m. Please attend the “S.V.A. Conference & Reunion” with your photos and/or spoken remembrances of Stormé DeLarverie!
– There will be a proper memorial for Stormé at Henrietta Hudson this Summer in July. Stay tuned (that means: “google it as the date gets closer”) and collect your Stormé stories and photos to share them if you plan to attend.
(*) I’m using male pronouns as I think that’s what he preferred.