Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Ray Rivera (July 2, 1951 – February 19, 2002)[4] was a Latina American gay liberation[5] and transgender rights activist[6] significant in the LGBT history of New York City and of the United States as a whole. Some claim Rivera, who identified as a drag queen,[1][7][8] was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front.

With her close friend Marsha P. Johnson, Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, gay kids, and trans women.[9]

Sylvia Ray Rivera
Sylvia Rae Rivera
Rivera, in the "gay camp" at the Christopher Street Piers c. 2000
Ray Rivera[1]

July 2, 1951
New York City, United States
DiedFebruary 19, 2002 (aged 50)
New York City, United States
Known forGay liberation,[2] transgender activist, advocate for the homeless.[3]

Early life

Rivera was born and raised in New York City and lived most of her life in or near the city; she was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent.[1] She was abandoned by her birth father José Rivera early in life and became an orphan after her mother committed suicide when Rivera was three years old.[10] Rivera was then raised by her Venezuelan grandmother, who disapproved of Rivera's effeminate behavior, particularly after Rivera began to wear makeup in fourth grade.[10] As a result, Rivera began living on the streets at the age of 11 and worked as a child prostitute. She was taken in by the local community of drag queens, who gave her the name Sylvia.[11]


Rivera's activism began during the Civil Rights Movement and continued through the movement against the Vietnam war and second-wave feminist movements. Rivera said she was a regular patron of the Stonewall Inn and was present during the Stonewall Riots in 1969, when gay men, lesbians, bisexual people, drag queens, street people and trans people rose up against what started as a routine raid by the police.[12] Stonewall historian David Carter has questioned whether Rivera was at the first night of the Stonewall Riots, based on contradictory statements she made as well as testimony relayed to him by early gay rights activists, including Marsha P. Johnson, who denied Rivera was present at the riots.[13] Rivera also became involved in Puerto Rican and African American youth activism, particularly with the Young Lords and Black Panthers.[10]

At different times in her life, Rivera battled substance abuse and lived on the streets, largely in the gay homeless community at the Christopher Street docks.[3] Her experiences made her more focused on advocacy for those who, in her view, mainstream society and the assimilationist sectors of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities were leaving behind.[14] For these reasons Rivera projected her voice to give her community power. She fought for herself but most importantly for the rights of people of color and low-income queers and trans people. As someone who suffered from systematic poverty and racism, Rivera used her voice for unity, sharing her stories, pain, and struggles to show her community they are not alone. She amplified the voices of the most vulnerable members of the gay community: drag queens, homeless youth, gay inmates in prison and jail, and transgender people.[15]

Johnson was Rivera's friend and ally. Their discussions led to activism and in 1970, Rivera and Johnson co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). STAR offered services and advocacy for homeless queer youth,[16] and fought for the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York. SONDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.[11]

At the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in New York City, Rivera, representing STAR, gave a brief speech from the main stage in which she called out the heterosexual males who were preying on vulnerable members of the community. Rivera espoused what could be seen as a third gender perspective, saying that LGBT prisoners seeking help "do not write women. They do not write men. They write to STAR."[17] At the same event, Rivera and fellow queen Lee Brewster jumped onstage during feminist activist Jean O'Leary's speech and shouts at the crowd her “Y’all Better Quiet Down," speech, stating, "You go to bars because of what drag queens did for you, and these bitches tell us to quit being ourselves!"[14][18]

In early July 1992, shortly after the New York City Pride March, Johnson's body was found floating in the Hudson River off the West Village Piers. Police promptly ruled Johnson's death a suicide, despite the presence of a head wound.[19] Johnson's friends and supporters, Rivera included, insisted Johnson had not been suicidal, and a people's postering campaign later declared that Johnson had earlier been harassed near the spot where her body was found. In May 1995, Rivera tried to commit suicide by walking into the Hudson River.[20] That year she also appeared in the Arthur Dong documentary episode "Out Rage '69", part of the PBS series The Question of Equality,[21] and gave an extensive interview to gay journalist Randy Wicker in which she discussed her suicide attempts, Johnson's life and death, and her advocacy for poor and working-class gays made homeless by the AIDS crisis.[3]

In the last five years of her life, Rivera renewed her political activity, giving many speeches about the Stonewall Uprising[22] and the necessity for transgender people, including drag queens and butch dykes, to fight for their legacy at the forefront of the LGBT movement. She traveled to Italy for the Millennium March in 2000, where she was acclaimed as the "mother of all gay people".[12] In early 2001, after a service at the Metropolitan Community Church of New York referring to the Star of Bethlehem announcing the birth of Jesus, she decided to resurrect STAR as an active political organization (now changing "Transvestite" to the more recently coined term "Transgender," which at that time was understood to include all gender-nonconforming people).[23] STAR fought for the New York City Transgender Rights Bill and for a trans-inclusive New York State Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act. STAR also sponsored street pressures for justice for Amanda Milan, a transgender woman murdered in 2000.[12] Rivera attacked Human Rights Campaign and Empire State Pride Agenda as organizations that were standing in the way of transgender rights. On her deathbed she met with Matt Foreman and Joe Grabarz of ESPA to negotiate transgender inclusion in its political structure and agenda.

Rivera was angered by her perception that the significance of drag queens and drag culture was being minimized by the ostensibly assimilationist gay rights agenda, particularly by new would-be "gay leaders" who were focusing on military service (Don't Ask Don't Tell) and marriage equality.[12][24] Rivera's conflicts with these newer LGBT groups were emblematic of the mainstream LGBT movement's strained relationship to the radical politics of many earlier gay liberation activists. After Rivera's death, Michael Bronski recalled her anger when she felt that she was being marginalized within the community:

After Gay Liberation Front folded and the more reformist Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) became New York's primary gay rights group, Sylvia Rivera worked hard within their ranks in 1971 to promote a citywide gay rights, anti-discrimination ordinance. But for all of her work, when it came time to make deals, GAA dropped the portions in the civil rights bill that dealt with transvestitism and drag — it just wasn't possible to pass it with such "extreme" elements included. As it turned out, it wasn't possible to pass the bill anyway until 1986. But not only was the language of the bill changed, GAA — which was becoming increasingly more conservative, several of its founders and officers had plans to run for public office — even changed its political agenda to exclude issues of transvestitism and drag. It was also not unusual for Sylvia to be urged to "front" possibly dangerous demonstrations, but when the press showed up, she would be pushed aside by the more middle-class, "straight-appearing" leadership. In 1995, Rivera was still hurt: "When things started getting more mainstream, it was like, 'We don't need you no more'". But, she added, "Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned".[25]

According to Bronski, Rivera was banned from New York's Gay & Lesbian Community Center for several years in the mid-1990s, because, on a cold winter's night, she aggressively demanded that the Center take care of poor and homeless queer youth. A short time before her death, Bronski reports that she said:

One of our main goals now is to destroy the Human Rights Campaign, because I'm tired of sitting on the back of the bumper. It's not even the back of the bus anymore — it's the back of the bumper. The bitch on wheels is back.[25]

Rivera's struggles did not relate exclusively to gay and trans people, as they intersected with issues of poverty and discrimination faced by people of color, which caused friction in the GAA as it was mainly made up of white middle-class gays[26]. The transgender person-of-color activist and scholar Jessi Gan discusses how mainstream LGBT groups have routinely dismissed or not paid sufficient attention to Rivera's Latina identity, while Puerto Rican and Latino groups have often not fully acknowledged Rivera's contribution to their struggles for civil rights.[10] Tim Retzloff has discussed this issue with respect to the omission of discussions about race and ethnicity in mainstream U.S. LGBT history, particularly with regard to Rivera's legacy.[27]


Rivera died during the dawn hours of February 19, 2002 at St. Vincent's Hospital, of complications from liver cancer.[2] Activist Riki Wilchins noted, "In many ways, Sylvia was the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement, a term that was not even coined until two decades after Stonewall".[28]


Street sign in New York City's Greenwich Village, named in Rivera's honor

"We have to be visible. We should not be ashamed of who we are. We have to show the world that we are numerous. There are many of us out there." [29]

As an active member of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Rivera ministered through the Church's food pantry, which provides food to hungry people. Recalling her life as a child on the streets, she remained a passionate advocate for queer youth, and MCC New York's queer youth shelter is called Sylvia's Place in her honour.[30]

Named in her honor (and established in 2002), the Sylvia Rivera Law Project is dedicated "to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence".[31]

In 2002, actor/comedian Jade Esteban Estrada portrays Rivera in the well-received solo musical ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 1(directed by Aliza Washabaugh-Durand and produced by Aliza Washabaugh-Durand and Christopher Durand) winning Rivera renewed national attention.

In 2005, the corner of Christopher and Hudson streets was renamed "Sylvia Rivera Way" in her honour. This intersection is in Greenwich Village, the neighborhood in New York City where Rivera started organizing, and is only two blocks from the Stonewall Inn.[32]

In January 2007, a new musical based upon Rivera's life, Sylvia So Far, premiered in New York at La Mama in a production starring Bianca Leigh as Rivera and Peter Proctor as Marsha P. Johnson. The composer and lyricist is Timothy Mathis (Wallflowers, Our Story Too, The Conjuring), a friend of Rivera's in real life. The show moved off-Broadway in the winter of 2007/2008.

The Spring 2007 issue of CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, which was dedicated to "Puerto Rican Queer Sexualities" and published at Hunter College, included a special dossier on Sylvia Rivera, including a transcription of a talk by Rivera from 2001 as well as two academic essays exploring the intersections of Rivera's trans and Latina identities.[10][12][27] The articles in this journal issue complement other essays by Puerto Rican scholars who have also emphasized Rivera's pioneering role.[33][34]

In 2014, The Social Justice Hub at The New School's newly opened University Center was named the Baldwin Rivera Boggs Center after activists James Baldwin, Sylvia Rivera, and Grace Lee Boggs.

In 2015 a portrait of Sylvia Rivera was added to the National Portrait Gallery.[35]

In 2016 Sylvia Rivera was inducted into the Legacy Walk.[36]

Happy Birthday, Marsha! is a short film about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, set in the hours before the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.[37]


Rivera's gender identity was complex and varied throughout her life.[1][3] In 1971 she spoke of herself as a "half sister"[38] In her essay "Transvestites: Your Half Sisters and Half Brothers of the Revolution" she specifically claims her use of the word "transvestite" as only applying to the gay community: "Transvestites are homosexual men and women who dress in clothes of the opposite sex."[38]

In interviews and writings in her later years, notably her 1995 interview with Randy Wicker and her 2002 essay, "Queens In Exile, The Forgotten Ones," she expressed a fluid take on gender, referring to herself alternately as a gay man,[5] a gay girl,[3] a drag queen/street queen,[1][7][8] and again as a gay man,[1] embodying all of these experiences and seeing none of these identities as excluding the others.[1] She writes of having considered gender reassignment surgery earlier in life, but of ultimately choosing to reject it, only taking hormones near the end of her life.[1]

I left home at age 10 in 1961. I hustled on 42nd Street. The early 60s was not a good time for drag queens, effeminate boys or boys that wore makeup like we did. Back then we were beat up by the police, by everybody. I didn't really come out as a drag queen until the late 60s. when drag queens were arrested, what degradation there was. I remember the first time I got arrested, I wasn't even in full drag. I was walking down the street and the cops just snatched me.[39]

People now want to call me a lesbian because I'm with Julia, and I say, "No. I'm just me. I'm not a lesbian." I'm tired of being labeled. I don't even like the label transgender. I'm tired of living with labels. I just want to be who I am. I am Sylvia Rivera. Ray Rivera left home at the age of 10 to become Sylvia. And that's who I am.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rivera, Sylvia, "Queens In Exile, The Forgotten Ones" in Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries: Survival, Revolt, and Queer Antagonist Struggle. Untorelli Press, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Dunlap, David W. (February 20, 2002). Sylvia Rivera, 50, Figure in Birth of the Gay Liberation Movement. New York Times
  3. ^ a b c d e Randy Wicker Interviews Sylvia Rivera on the Pier. Event occurs at Repeatedly throughout interview. September 21, 1995. Accessed July 24, 2015.
  4. ^ Dunlap, David W. (February 20, 2002). "Sylvia Rivera, 50, Figure in Birth of the Gay Liberation Movement". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Randy Wicker Interviews Sylvia Rivera on the Pier. Event occurs at 14:17. September 21, 1995. Accessed July 24, 2015.
  6. ^ "21 Transgender People Who Influenced American Culture". Time Magazine.
  7. ^ a b Leslie Feinberg (September 24, 2006). Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Workers World Party. "Stonewall combatants Sylvia Rivera and Marsha "Pay It No Mind" Johnson... Both were self-identified drag queens."
  8. ^ a b Sylvia Rivera Reflects on the Spirit of Marsha P Johnson. Event occurs at 1:27. September 21, 1995. Accessed July 24, 2015.
  9. ^ Marsha P. Johnson died in 1992. In 2001, Rivera "resurrected" the group, renaming it "Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries." SoundPortraits (July 4, 2001). Update on Remembering Stonewall. Archived July 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b c d e Gan, Jessi. "'Still at the Back of the Bus': Sylvia Rivera's Struggle". Archived April 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 19.1 (Spring 2007): 124–139.
  11. ^ a b Cohen, Stephan (2007). The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York: 'An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail'. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-8070-7941-3.
  12. ^ a b c d e Rivera, Sylvia. "Sylvia Rivera's Talk at LGMNY, June 2001, Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, New York City". Archived April 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 19.1 (Spring 2007): 116–123.
  13. ^ Paul D. Cain. "David Carter: Historian of The Stonewall Riots". Gay Today.
  14. ^ a b Clendinen, Dudley, and Nagourney, Adam (1999). Out for Good, Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-81091-3, pp. 171–172.
  15. ^ Shepard, Benjamin (2012). "From Community Organization to Direct Services: The Street Trans Action Revolutionaries to Sylvia Rivera Law Project". Journal of Social Service Research.
  16. ^ Ng, Samuel (2013). "Trans Power! Sylvia Lee Rivera's STAR and the Black Panther Party". Left History. 17.
  17. ^ y'all better quiet down!. Event occurs at 1:40. Archived from the original on May 25, 2015.
  18. ^ Duberman, Martin (1993). Stonewall, Penguin Books. ISBN 0-525-93602-5, p. 236.
  19. ^ Wicker, Randolfe (1992) "Marsha P Johnson – People's Memorial". Accessed July 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Staff report (May 24, 1995). About New York; Still Here: Sylvia, Who Survived Stonewall, Time and the River. New York Times
  21. ^ Goodman, Walter (November 4, 1995). Television Review: The Gay Search for Equality. New York Times
  22. ^ "It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil rights disobedience — it wasn't no damn riot." – Stormé DeLarverie in K, Kristi (May 28, 2014). "Something Like A Super Lesbian: Stormé DeLarverie (In Memoriam)". Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  23. ^ Feinberg, Leslie (1996) Transgender Warriors: Making History. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-7941-3
  24. ^ Hoffman, Amy (2007) An Army of Ex-Lovers: My life at the Gay Community News. University of Massachusetts Press 978-1558496217
  25. ^ a b Bronski, Michael (April 2002). Sylvia Rivera: 1951–2002. Archived 2005-11-13 at the Wayback Machine in Z Magazine. "Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned".
  26. ^ "The Crusade of Transgender Activist Sylvia Rivera". BESE. 2018-06-08. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  27. ^ a b Retzloff, Tim. "Eliding Trans Latino/a Queer Experience in U.S. LGBT History: José Sarria and Sylvia Rivera Reexamined". Archived August 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 19.1 (Spring 2007): 140–161.
  28. ^ Wilchins, Riki (February 27, 2002). "A Woman for Her Time: In Memory of Stonewall Warrior Sylvia Rivera". Village Voice. Archived from the original on June 19, 2006.
  29. ^ "Her Story To Tell".
  30. ^ Sylvia Rivera's obituary via MCCNY
  31. ^ "SRLP (Sylvia Rivera Law Project)". SRLP (Sylvia Rivera Law Project). Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  32. ^ Withers, James (November 25, 2005). Remembering Sylvia Rivera: Though a divisive figure, trans activist and Stonewall rioter gets honored with street sign. New York Blade
  33. ^ Aponte-Parés, Luis. "Outside/In: Crossing Queer and Latino Boundaries". In Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York, eds. Agustín Laó-Montes and Arlene Dávila, 363-85. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-231-11274-2
  34. ^ La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. "1898 and the History of a Queer Puerto Rican Century: Imperialism, Diaspora, and Social Transformation". CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 11. 1 (Fall 1999): 91–110. First published in Chicano/Latino Homoerotic Identities, ed. David William Foster, 197–215. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8153-3228-9
  35. ^ Ring, Trudy. "Sylvia Rivera Gets a Place in the National Portrait Gallery". Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  36. ^ Windy City Times. "1315 – Legacy Walk unveils 2 new plaques under rainbow sky – Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News Archive – Windy City Times". Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  37. ^ Luo, Steven (2018-10-30). "Artist, professor explore transgender history through art". UWIRE Text. p. 1. Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  38. ^ a b Rivera, Sylvia, "Transvestites: Your Half Sisters and Half Brothers of the Revolution" in Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries: Survival, Revolt, and Queer Antagonist Struggle. Untorelli Press, 2013. "Transvestites are homosexual men and women who dress in clothes of the opposite sex."
  39. ^ Rivera, Sylvia, "I'm Glad I Was in The Stonewall Riot" in Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries: Survival, Revolt, and Queer Antagonist Struggle. Untorelli Press, 2013.

External links

Bob Kohler

Robert Andrew "Bob" Kohler (17 May 1926 – 5 December 2007) was a gay rights pioneer. A native of Queens, New York, Kohler was a lifetime activist in New York City, who also fought for the rights of many other people and animals. He was at the Stonewall riots, and considered a father figure to many of the young trans people, such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, as well as to younger generations of activists.

Kohler served in the U. S. Navy in the South Pacific Theater during World War II, was the manager of the New York gay bathhouse, Club Baths, was among the first agents to represent non-famous Black artists, owner of the popular gay store The Loft on Christopher Street, and a lifelong activist.He died of lung cancer on December 5, 2007, at the age of 81, in the Charles Street (West Village) apartment that he had lived in for 45 years.

Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies

CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies (formerly known as Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies or CLAGS) was founded in 1991 by professor Martin Duberman as the first university-based research center in the United States dedicated to the study of historical, cultural, and political issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and communities. Housed at the Graduate Center, CUNY, CLAGS sponsors public programs and conferences, offers fellowships to individual scholars, and functions as a conduit of information. It also serves as a national center for the promotion of scholarship that fosters social change.The center is located at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, in New York City. Past executive directors include Martin Duberman, Alissa Solomon, Jill Dolan, Paisley Currah, Sarah Chinn, James Wilson, and Kevin Nadal. Nadal was the first person of color to hold the Executive Director role. The current Executive Director is Justin Brown.

CLAGS also provides scholarships and fellowships to members of the LGBTQ community. Some awards include the Robert Giard fellowship for visual arts (photography and videography), the Sylvia Rivera award for best paper in Transgender Studies, the Kessler Award for lifetime contributions to LGBTQ Studies, and the José Esteban Muñoz Award for activism.In 2016, the center commemorated its 25th anniversary with a conference that reunited its Founders and past executive directors, as well as a celebration at New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.

Chase Strangio

Chase Strangio is an American lawyer and transgender rights activist. He is a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Dean Spade

Dean Spade (born 1977) is a lawyer, writer, trans activist, and Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law. In 2002, he founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective in New York City that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. Spade was a staff attorney at SRLP from 2002 to 2006, during which time he presented testimony to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission and helped achieve a major victory for transgender youth in foster care in the Jean Doe v. Bell case. More recently, Spade was involved with the campaign to stop Seattle from building a new jail.The Advocate named Spade one of their "Forty Under 40" in May 2010. Utne Reader named Spade and Tyrone Boucher on their list of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" in 2009, for their collaborative project Enough: The Personal Politics of Resisting Capitalism.Spade was the 2009-2010 Haywood Burns Chair at CUNY Law School, the Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School and Harvard Law School, and was selected to give the 2009-2010 James A. Thomas Lecture at Yale Law School. He received a Jesse Dukeminier Award for the article "Documenting Gender". Spade has written extensively about his personal experience as a trans law professor and student. This includes writings on transphobia in higher education as well as the class privilege of being a professor. He has also written about the limitations of the law's ability to address issues of inequity and injustice. His research interests have included the impact of the War on Terror on transgender rights, the bureaucratization of trans identities, models of non-profit governance in social movements, and the limits of enhanced hate crime penalties. His first book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law, was released in January 2012 from South End Press and nominated for a 2011 Lambda Literary Award in the category of Transgender Nonfiction.Spade has collaborated extensively in the past, including editing two special issues of Sexuality Research and Social Policy with Paisley Currah and coauthoring a guide to Medical Therapy and Health Maintenance for Transgender Men with Dr. Nick Gorton. Spade has collaborated particularly frequently with sociologist Craig Willse. Their collaborative projects include I Still Think Marriage is the Wrong Goal, a manifesto and Facebook group. Willse and Spade were also the co-creators of MAKE, "propaganda for activist agitation", a paper zine (1999–2001) and website (2001–2007). In the past, Spade has written other zines including Piss and Vinegar (2002), telling the story of his transphobic arrest during the 2002 World Economic Forum protests in New York City. Mimi Nguyen interviewed Spade and Willse about the experience in Maximumrocknroll.

Gay Activists Alliance

The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was founded in New York City on December 21, 1969, almost six months after the Stonewall riots, by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). In contrast to the Liberation Front, the Activists Alliance solely and specifically served to gay and

lesbian rights, declared themself politically neutral and wanted to work within the political system. Some early members included Jim Owles, Marty Robinson, Tom Doerr, Kay Lahusen, Arthur Bell, Arthur Evans, Bill Bahlman, Vito Russo, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Jim Coles, Brenda Howard, David Thorstad, Michael Giammetta and Morty Manford (son of Jeanne Manford). GAA's first president was Jim Owles.

Gay Liberation Front

The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was the name of a number of gay liberation groups, the first of which was formed in New York City in 1969, immediately after the Stonewall riots, in which police clashed with gay demonstrators.

Happy Birthday, Marsha!

Happy Birthday, Marsha! is a fictional short film that imagines transgender rights pioneers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in the hours leading to the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. The film stars Mya Taylor as Marsha P. Johnson. It was written, directed, and produced by Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel. The filmmakers raised over $25,000 on Kickstarter to fund the film. The film is a sponsored project of Women Make Movies. As of January 2018, Happy Birthday, Marsha! is in post-production.The film, Happy Birthday, Marsha!, was released in 2018. The film received some press after Tourmaline accused David France of using some of her labor in his own film on Johnson's life, which France denied.

Janet Mock

Janet Mock (born March 10, 1983) is an American writer, television host, director, producer and transgender rights activist. Her debut book, the memoir Redefining Realness, became a New York Times bestseller. She is a contributing editor for Marie Claire and a former staff editor of People magazine's website.

Lesbian Feminist Liberation

Lesbian Feminist Liberation was a lesbian rights advocacy organization in New York City formed in 1972.

List of LGBT rights organizations in the United States

This is a list of LGBT rights organizations in the United States. It does not include LGBT organizations affiliated with political parties.

List of transgender-rights organizations

Transgender organizations seek to promote understanding and acceptance, both legally and socially, of transgender persons.

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945 – July 6, 1992) was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, Johnson was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. A founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, Johnson co-founded the gay and transvestite advocacy organization S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), alongside close friend Sylvia Rivera. A popular figure in New York City's gay and art scene, Johnson modeled for Andy Warhol, and performed onstage with the drag performance troupe, Hot Peaches. Known for decades as a welcoming presence in the streets of Greenwich Village, Johnson was known as the "mayor of Christopher Street". From 1987 through 1992, Johnson was an AIDS activist with ACT UP.

Metropolitan Community Church of New York

The Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY) is an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Christian church in New York City, located at 446 36th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenue in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan.

Stonewall (charity)

Stonewall (officially Stonewall Equality Limited) is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity in the United Kingdom, named after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village. Now the largest LGBT rights organisation not only in the UK but in Europe, it was formed in 1989 by political activists and others lobbying against section 28 of the Local Government Act. Its founders include Sir Ian McKellen, Lisa Power MBE and Lord Cashman (CBE).Stonewall diversified into policy development for the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people after Labour came to power in 1997. It remains a lobbying organisation rather than a membership organisation. Former Chief Executive Ben Summerskill has commented: "We are not a 'democratic' organisation ... We seek to develop all our work, and policy positions where appropriate, by building as wide a consensus as possible among lesbian, gay and bisexual people."Stonewall has regional offices for all of Great Britain: Stonewall in GB is based in London, Stonewall Scotland has headquarters in Edinburgh, and Stonewall Cymru (Stonewall Wales) is in Cardiff and north Wales. Currently, Stonewall does not have any regional headquarters in Northern Ireland.

Stonewall's accounts for 2015 show that in that year its highest paid member of staff earned "£100,000 to £109,999".

Stonewall riots

The Stonewall riots (also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.Gay Americans in the 1950s and 1960s faced an anti-gay legal system. Early homophile groups in the U.S. sought to prove that gay people could be assimilated into society, and they favored non-confrontational education for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. The last years of the 1960s, however, were very contentious, as many social/political movements were active, including the civil rights movement, the counterculture of the 1960s, and the anti–Vietnam War movement. These influences, along with the liberal environment of Greenwich Village, served as catalysts for the Stonewall riots.

Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.

After the Stonewall riots, gays and lesbians in New York City faced gender, race, class, and generational obstacles to becoming a cohesive community. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gays and lesbians. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. On June 28, 1970, the first gay pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago commemorating the anniversary of the riots. Similar marches were organized in other cities. Today, Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.As of 2017, plans were advancing by the State of New York to host the largest international LGBT pride celebration in 2019, known as Stonewall 50 / WorldPride, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. In New York City, the Stonewall 50 / WorldPride events produced by Heritage of Pride will be enhanced through a partnership made with the I ❤ NY program's LGBT division and will include a welcome center during the weeks surrounding the Stonewall 50 / WorldPride events that is open to all. Additional commemorative arts, cultural, and educational programing to mark the 50th anniversary of the rebellion at the Stonewall Inn will be taking place throughout the city and the world; it is believed that 2019 will be the largest international LGBT pride celebration held in history. In addition to events requiring paid admission, a march open to the public is scheduled for June 30, 2019.

Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries

Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) was a gay, gender non-conforming and transgender street activist organization founded in 1970 by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, subculturally-famous New York City drag queens of color. STAR was a radical political collective that also provided housing and support to homeless queer youth and sex workers in Lower Manhattan. STAR developed intersectional politics and supported some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Rivera and Johnson were the "mothers" of the household, and funded the organization largely through sex work. STAR is considered by many to be a groundbreaking organization in the queer liberation movement and a model for other organizations.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) is a legal aid organization based in New York City at the Miss Major-Jay Toole Building for Social Justice that serves low-income or people of color who are transgender, intersex and/or gender non-conforming. The organization was formed in August 2002 by attorney and transgender civil rights activist, Dean Spade. The project was named for Sylvia Rivera, a transgender activist and veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, who died the same year that SRLP was formed.

Tourmaline (activist)

Tourmaline (formerly known as Reina Gossett) is an activist, filmmaker and writer based in New York City, currently the 2016–2018 Activist-in-Residence at Barnard Center for Research on Women. She is a transgender woman who identifies as queer. Tourmaline is most notable for her work in transgender activism and economic justice, through her work with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Critical Resistance and Queers for Economic Justice. In 2017, she edited the book Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, with co-editors Eric A. Stanley and Johanna Burton. The book is part of a series called Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture by MIT Press.

Victoria Cruz

Victoria Cruz is an American LGBT rights activist and retired domestic violence counselor. A contemporary of activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, she is featured in the 2017 documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.


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