1920 - 2014

Stormé DeLarverie (pronounced “Stormy”) was born on December 24, 1920 in New Orleans, LA to a black mother and a white father. DeLarverie was a butch lesbian (who today might identify as non-binary or genderqueer) who traveled the country as a man despite the danger in doing so. In the 1940s, DeLarverie was a solo performer with a three-piece band. During the 1950s and into the 60s, she was the emcee of the only racially integrated drag performance troupe at that time, the Jewel Box Review, which included several drag queens and DeLarverie, the baritone-voiced drag king. When DeLarverie wasn’t touring she called New York’s Chelsea Hotel home, residing there for decades. She worked security at Henrietta Hudson, a popular lesbian bar on Hudson Street as well as security at The Cubby Hole. More than merely a bouncer, DeLarverie considered the bar patrons as her “babies” and patrolled the streets as their defender with a straight-edge razor in her sock. At the Stonewall Riot on June 27, 1969, DeLarverie reportedly threw the first punch. As the story goes, when the police raided the Stonewall Inn that night, DeLarverie witnessed three officers ganging up on one young man so she sprang to the victim’s defense. An undercover policeman, mistaking DeLarverie for a man, used a gay slur and shoved DeLarverie, who retaliated with a punch to the face. The officer dropped to the ground, bleeding. The story of DeLarverie throwing the first punch has been disputed in the intervening decades by various witnesses, however, no one has questioned that she was in attendance that night. DeLarverie preferred the word “rebellion” when describing events at the Stonewall, feeling the term “riot” implied criminality. In 2003, filmmaker Sam Bassett produced a documentary about DeLarverie and the community icon was also one of the many subjects of famed photographer Diane Arbus. Suffering from dementia, Storme died at age 93 on May 24, 2014 in a Brooklyn nursing home after suffering a heart attack the day before. Hundreds of admirers attended her West Village funeral. In June 2019, DeLarverie was one of the 50 inaugural “pioneers, trailblazers and heroes” who were inducted into the Stonewall National Monument’s National LGBTQ Wall of Honor.

Demography

Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian Queer

Gender Identity Genderqueer/Non-Binary

Ethnicity African American Black Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980) Stonewall Era (1969-1974)

Field(s) of Contribution

Advocacy & Activism

Entertainer

Music

Social Justice

US History

Commemorations & Honors

SAGE Lifetime Achievement Award (1999)

National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall National Monument Inductee (2019)

Authorship

Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Allo Kerstein
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell