NEW YORK (AP) — Storme DeLarverie, a lesbian activist who took part in the New York Stonewall riots in 1969 that started the gay rights movement in the United States, has died. She was 93.
DeLarverie died May 24 at a Brooklyn nursing home, said Lisa Cannistraci, a longtime friend and one of her legal guardians.
Born in New Orleans in 1920 to a Black mother and a White father, DeLarverie “was born into adversity and lived in adversity her whole life,” Cannistraci said.
In the 1950s, she was part of a traveling drag show called the Jewel Box Revue, where she performed as a male impersonator. In the 1969 riots, she was among those who fought against a police raid at a Greenwich Village bar called the Stonewall.
“She was a very serious woman when it came to protecting people she loved,” Cannistraci said, adding that DeLarverie “just lived to be of service.”
Well into her later years, she worked as a bouncer at bars, including the one where she and Cannistraci met in 1985.
In recent years, DeLarverie suffered from dementia, but was still able to appreciate milestones including the advent of same-sex marriage in New York state and the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Cannistraci said.
Peter Frank of the Bronx LGBTQ Community Services Center called DeLarverie “a fierce woman who stood up for our community on countless occasions.”
A funeral service was planned for May 29.