Though famously known as one of the leaders of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Sylvia Rivera was much more to many people–among other things, she was an activist, a lover, and organizer, and a mother, and above all, she was exceedingly genuine. She genuinely cared for her family, for the homeless youth on Christopher Street, in Greenwich Village, and for all trans people.
Sylvia and Marsha P. Johnson began Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (a.k.a. STAR) in 1970, to provide a voice, and material resources for drag queens, trans people, & gay and trans runaways. At the time, they were 19 and 25. They did prisoner advocacy, housed queer youth, and made money by performing sex work.
//Y’all Better Quiet Down!//
In 1973, at a gay pride rally, Sylvia fought her way onstage to advocate for trans people of color, in a fiery speech against the white, gay complacency in the LGBT+ community. In this video clip, she speaks of imprisoned LGBT+ members, sexual assault and rape, police brutality, and gay power.
//Sylvia Rivera: A Tribute//
This short documentary was created by friends of Sylvia’s. It tells of her later years in activism, after Stonewall, and the impact she made on everyone she knew. Watch here.
//We salute you, Sylvia!//
Sylvia Rivera was a complex & unique human being, and it is because of her and many others, that we can have this book club. It is because of her activism and her strength that many of us have the courage to step outside, into the light. It is because of her depth as a human being that many of us can feel comfortable being our whole selves.
So, on this day, July 3, we honor her activism, and her humanity. Thank you, Sylvia, and happy birthday!