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Sylvia Str - History

Sylvia Str - History


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Sylvia

(Str.: dp. 302; 1. 130' (wl.); b. 18'6; dr. 10'; s. 9 k.;
cpl. 35; a. 1 3-par. rf., 3 1-par. rf., 2 mg.)

During the war with Spain, Sylvia—a steam yacht built in 1882 by A. Stephen and Sons, Glasgow, Scotland—was purchased by the Navy on 13 June 1898 and commissioned on 29 June 1898.

Sylvia sailed from New York on 21 July 1898 and proceeded via Norfolk, Va., to Key West, Fla. She remained at Key West from 13 to 17 August and returned to Norfolk on the 25th. She was decommissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 10 December and transferred to the Maryland Naval Militia on 19

December 1898. On 6 December 1907, the ship was reassigned to the Pennsylvania Naval Militia and remained with that organization for six years. On 13 September 1913, Sylvia was reassigned to the Naval Militia, District of Columbia.

On 10 April 1917, shortly after the United States entered World War I, Sylvia was recommissioned and assigned to patrol duty in the 5th Naval District until early 1919. Sylvia was struck from the Navy list on 24 April 1919 and sold on 20 October 1921.


Henry Silva

Henry Silva (born September 15, 1928) [1] is an American retired actor. A prolific character actor, Silva has been a regular staple of international genre cinema often as a criminal or gangster. Notable film appearances include Ocean's 11 (1960), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Johnny Cool (1963), Sharky's Machine (1981), and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999).


Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath, pseudonym Victoria Lucas, (born October 27, 1932, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died February 11, 1963, London, England), American poet whose best-known works, such as the poems “Daddy” and “ Lady Lazarus” and the novel The Bell Jar, starkly express a sense of alienation and self-destruction closely tied to her personal experiences and, by extension, the situation of women in mid-20th-century America.

Why is Sylvia Plath important?

Sylvia Plath was an American writer whose best-known works, including the poems “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus” and the novel The Bell Jar, starkly express a sense of alienation and self-destruction that has resonated with many readers since the mid-20th century.

What was Sylvia Plath’s early life like?

Sylvia Plath published her first poem at age eight. She entered and won many literary contests. She first sold a poem, to The Christian Science Monitor, and first sold a short story, to Seventeen magazine, while still in high school. She was a cowinner of the Mademoiselle magazine fiction contest in 1952.

Where did Sylvia Plath study?

Sylvia Plath entered Smith College on a scholarship in 1951. She achieved considerable artistic, academic, and social success, but she also suffered from severe depression, attempted suicide, and underwent a period of psychiatric hospitalization. She graduated from Smith with highest honours in 1955 and went on to Newnham College, Cambridge, on a Fulbright fellowship.

When was Sylvia Plath married?

In 1956 Sylvia Plath married the English poet Ted Hughes they had two children. The couple separated in 1962 after Hughes had an affair. Hughes compiled many of Plath’s posthumous publications. Controversy surrounded his editing practices, especially when he revealed that he had destroyed the last journals Plath had written before her suicide.

What awards did Sylvia Plath win?

The Collected Poems, which included many previously unpublished poems, appeared in 1981 and received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, which made Sylvia Plath the first to receive the honour posthumously.

Plath published her first poem at age eight. She entered and won many literary contests, and, while still in high school, she sold her first poem to The Christian Science Monitor and her first short story to Seventeen magazine. She entered Smith College on a scholarship in 1951 and was a cowinner of the Mademoiselle magazine fiction contest in 1952. At Smith Plath achieved considerable artistic, academic, and social success, but she also suffered from severe depression, attempted suicide, and underwent a period of psychiatric hospitalization. She graduated from Smith with highest honours in 1955 and went on to Newnham College in Cambridge, England, on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1956 she married the English poet Ted Hughes they had two children. The couple separated in 1962, after Hughes’s affair with another woman.

During 1957–58 Plath was an instructor in English at Smith College. In 1960, shortly after she returned to England with Hughes, her first collection of poems appeared as The Colossus, which received good reviews. Her novel, The Bell Jar, was published in London in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Strongly autobiographical, the book describes the mental breakdown and eventual recovery of a young college girl and parallels Plath’s own breakdown and hospitalization in 1953.

Ariel (1965)—a collection of Plath’s later poems that included “Daddy” and another of her well-known poems, “Lady Lazarus” —sparked the growth of a much broader following of devoted and enthusiastic readers than she had during her lifetime. Ariel received a review in The New York Times that praised its “relentless honesty,” “sophistication of the use of rhyme,” and “bitter force,” and Poetry magazine noted “a pervasive impatience, a positive urgency to the poems.” Plath quickly became one of the most popular American poets. The appearance of small collections of previously unpublished poems, including Crossing the Water (1971) and Winter Trees (1971), was welcomed by critics and the public alike. The Bell Jar was reissued in Great Britain under her own name in 1966, and it was published in the United States for the first time in 1971. Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, a book of short stories and prose, was published in 1977.

The Collected Poems, which includes many previously unpublished poems, appeared in 1981 and received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, making Plath the first to receive the honour posthumously. A book for children that she had written in 1959, The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit, was published in 1996. Interest in Plath and her works continued into the 21st century. She had kept a journal for much of her life, and in 2000 The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, covering the years from 1950 to 1962, was published. A biographical film of Plath starring Gwyneth Paltrow ( Sylvia) appeared in 2003. In 2009 Plath’s radio play Three Women (1962) was staged professionally for the first time. A volume of Plath’s letters, written in 1940–56, was published in 2017. A second collection—which contained her later letters, including a number of candid notes to her psychiatrist—appeared the following year. In 2019 the story Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom, written in 1952, was published for the first time.

Many of Plath’s posthumous publications were compiled by Hughes, who became the executor of her estate. However, controversy surrounded both the estate’s management of her work’s copyright and his editing practices, especially when he revealed that he had destroyed the last journals written prior to her suicide.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.


Sylvia Tyson making (a) history

Not a miner of old road stories or a scribbler of confessional memoirs, as you might expect of a singer/songwriter of her stature and venerable condition. But a bona fide author of Big Fiction.

“It's nice to know I still have the capacity to surprise people,” Tyson smiled, over tea in a chi-chi café in Rosedale near her home, during a recent interview about her literary debut, the novel Joyner's Dream (HarperCollins).

The book, a compelling family saga that begins in the late 1700s in Britain and winds up in contemporary Toronto, hit the shelves a couple of weeks ago. Since then, Tyson has been darting from pillar to post to meet the demands of a curious and almost disbelieving media.

And it has inadvertently subjected her to the as yet unspoken wrath of lifetime writers, jealous of the all the attention she has been grabbing.

“No one has been unkind,” she said. “But I can sense the dismay in people who have been writing professionally all their lives and rarely see their names in the news.”

After all, Tyson has been a constant fixture in Canada's musical firmament for almost 50 years. First it was as one half of the folk duo Ian & Sylvia in the 1960s, then as a solo artist and songwriter/recording artist. That was followed by high-profile employment through the 1970s and 1980s at CBC as host of popular music radio and TV programs (Touch The Earth, Heartland, Country in My Soul), then as the writer and/or star of musical stage productions (River Road, The Piano Man's Daughter). More recently, she's been part of the Canadian female folk-pop supergroup Quartette, with Cindy Church, Gwen Swick and Caitlin Hanford.

She has never been far from music, even when she wasn't an active performer. Tyson has been a member of the FACTOR and Juno boards, and is currently president of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, whose seventh annual induction and awards gala took place this past weekend.

She's even a little surprised herself. Joyner's Dream — a series of first-person narratives, mostly in the voices of men, that traces the history of a family uniquely double-gifted with musical abilities and larcenous natures — took five years to write, and was rejected by several Canadian publishers.

Then HarperCollins took a second look and decided that the tale was worth their investment, provided Tyson could part with 100 of its original 500 pages.

She did, and quite happily, she confessed.

Even so, Tyson can't quite believe she has made such a radical shift in her creative life with such apparent success.

“My friends call me the mother of reinvention,” said the stately 70-year-old, who has also written and recorded — with the help of Terry McKenna, a specialist in ancient plucked instruments, and a regular performer with Tafelmusik, Opera Atelier, the Canadian Opera Company and the Stratford Festival — a CD of period-specific music, both instrumental and vocal, to illuminate the episodes in her novel.

Released on the Salt label, the music on the CD, Joyner's Dream — The Kingsfold Suite, can be heard at the many public readings HarperCollins has booked for Tyson, weaving through her words.

A second album, continuing the saga's musical progress through the ragtime and jazz eras, is also in the works, Tyson said.

So what prompted the celebrated songwriter to embark on a new tack after so many fruitful years in music?

“I'm an inveterate reader,” she said.

“I always have two or three books on the go at once, mostly murder mysteries, though I grew up on the classics. My parents were members of the Book of the Month Club, and I devoured everything that came in the door.”

Besides, writing a novel isn't so different from writing a song, she added.

“I've always written story songs, and they're rarely in my own voice. It's other characters who are singing them. And they all have back stories, at least in my head.”

Loading.

In her head is where Tyson wrote Joyner's Dream, during morning walks through Rosedale's wooded parks and ravines.

“I actually work everything out in my mind before I put anything down on paper,” she explained.

“I wanted to write a novel in which music, specifically a fiddle, is the central thread.

“Once I worked out who all the people are in the story, it became a matter of how to link them up, so music and a journal that's handed down from one generation to the next, became the means.

“I enjoyed the luxury of being able to write something that was longer than four minutes and didn't have to rhyme.”

Tyson did, however, read whole chapters out loud during the writing process.

“If the words come easily out of the mouth, they'll slip easily into the mind,” she said.

And though she drew on characters and personality traits of people she has known, there's nothing autobiographical about Joyner's Dream.

“There are only peripheral references, nothing specific,” Tyson said. “The characters are my own inventions. And I found voices for them by listening to the way people talk. I've always done that.

“Men's voices aren't a stretch for me. I've never lived in a woman's world. I was on the road with guys at a very young age. I know how they think, how they avoid. Men have the luxury of single-mindedness, so women are compelled to multi-task.

“I've always been more an observer than a participant.

“Jackie Burroughs once told me all I did on the Festival Express (the famed railroad rock 'n' roll circus that crossed the country in 1970 with The Band, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and more) was sit in a corner, hiding behind a book and watching all the madness.”


Episode Transcript

I’m Eric Marcus and welcome to the third season of Making Gay History!

Just as I did for our first two seasons, I’m taking a deep dive into my decades-old audio archive to bring you the voices of LGBTQ history.

For the start of this new season, we’re bringing you the second part of a conversation I had with Sylvia Rivera back in 1989. Sylvia talked about her memories of the Stonewall uprising and how she left home in 1962 when she was only eleven years old. If you haven’t already heard that episode, I urge you to have a listen.

So here’s the second part of that conversation in Sylvia’s tenement apartment kitchen in North Tarrytown, New York. It’s Saturday evening, December 9th, 1989. Sylvia’s friend Rennie has just left for work. On Rennie’s way out, she asked Sylvia to save her a drink for when she gets back. Sylvia promises that of course she would, but as soon as Rennie is out the door Sylvia pours herself another generous glass of vodka from a bottle that is already well on the way to being emptied. Sylvia’s boyfriend Frank is in the next room watching TV.

Sylvia [to Frank]: Frank! What are you doing? I just realized, you have to go and buy me some tomato sauce. I forgot to buy the tomato sauce for the chili. So could you go out and get that? And, huh? Uh, pick up a couple cans. Yeah, nice cans. Not the little ones. No, not Aunt Millie’s. I need tomato sauce. We’re not making pasta.

But, no… It’s um… You can sell anything out on the streets. You can sell men, young boys, and young women. There’s always a customer out there and they are the ones that are sick.

I remember just going home and just scrubbing myself in a tub of hot waters. “Oh, these people touched me.” I mean, the sleaze. Even if they weren’t old. They could have been young. I remember sleeping… When I was thirteen and fourteen years old, I remember sleeping with guys that were twenty and twenty-one because they were paying me. And they had their hang-ups.

Eric : You knew what you were.

Sylvia : I knew I was a whore at that time. I knew I was out to make money.

Eric : And these guys were pretending they were something else, coming to you for…

Sylvia : They came for a fantasy trip. That’s what it was. It was a big a fantasy.

Eric : How did the police treat you when you were a kid and out on the streets?

Sylvia : The first time that I got arrested it was like, “I’m going where?”

Eric : What had you done?

Sylvia : You were a faggot.

Eric : Were you dressed in women’s clothes?

Sylvia : Well, back then, when I first started out, I was in women’s clothes. It was what, what they call right now, even right now what I’m wearing is “scare” drag.

Eric : Scare drag? What is scare drag?

Sylvia : What I’m wearing right now. You don’t have the tits on or anything. You just have a little makeup on. You have your hair out. You got women’s clothing on. And that’s what they called scare drag. Every time that I used to go in front of a judge, “upper-head female impersonation.”

Eric : That was the charge.

Eric : Upper-head female impersonation. In other words, from the neck up.

Eric : That’s incredible.

Sylvia : The laws back then were very strange.

Eric : So from, let’s say up until ‘69 you weren’t involved in gay rights or any of that stuff, were you?

Sylvia : Before the Stonewall I was involved in the Black liberation movement, the peace movement. I just felt that I had, I had the time and I knew that I had to do something. And then when the Stonewall happened…

Eric : You were, let’s see, nineteen, eighteen years old then…

Eric : You were still a kid by most standards.

Sylvia : Yes. It was like a god sent thing to me. I mean, I just happened to be there when it all jumped off. I said, “Oh, well, great,” I said, “Now it’s my time.” I said, “Here, I’m out there being a revolutionist for everybody else.” I said, “Now it’s time to do my thing for my own people.” And I joined GAA, and that first year that we were petitioning for gay rights, on April 15, of that year…

Sylvia Rivera (wearing letter “E”) with Marsha P. Johnson (wearing letter “Y”) and fellow Gay Liberation Front activists outside Criminal Court in New York City, early 1970’s. Credit: ©Diana Davies, courtesy of Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Eric : So it was 1970?

Sylvia : I got arrested for petitioning for gay rights on 42nd Street.

Eric : You had a petition… Was it for the…

Eric : …the city gay rights bill?

Sylvia : The city gay rights bill.

Eric : Who were you getting to sign it?

Sylvia : I was asking people to sign it in the middle of 42nd Street.

Eric : Were you dressed in drag?

Sylvia : No, I was dressed casually. Make-up, you know, the hair and whatnot.

Sylvia : The cops came up to me and says, “No, no, no no, you can’t do this. Either you leave or we’re going to arrest you.” I said, “Well, fine, arrest me.” They very nicely picked me up and threw me in a police car and took me to jail.

Eric : For taking out a petition.

Sylvia : Yup. I went in front of the judge. The judge looked at the two arresting officers and he’s like, “Don’t you realize what’s going on?” You know, I could see his look in his face. “Well, number one,” I says, “I’m letting him go.”

Eric : To the policeman.

Sylvia : Uh, hmm. He says, “You don’t realize what you just did.” He says, “The whole country is going up in uproar and you are messing with people…

Eric : Who are signing petitions.

Sylvia : Yeah. Right. And I’m like, “Oh, Okay.”

Eric : Now, were you part of… there was a protest at N.Y.U.

Sylvia : One of the sit-ins. That was one of the sit-ins. We always had dances there and all of a sudden they didn’t want us to have any dances there. And, so, okay, we won’t have any dances. We just took over Weinstein Hall. It was a nice sit-in for three or four days. It was interesting.

Eric : So you were there.

Sylvia : Yeah, I was there. And my brothers and sisters from the gay community themselves were not very, very supportive.

Sylvia : Of of anything that went down. At that time, I was sleeping in the park. ‘Cause I had already given up my job, given up everything for gay liberation. I was sleeping in Sheridan Square Park, okay? And Bob Kohler came and told me, he says, “We’re having a sit-in.” He was from GLF. He’s one of the originators from Gay Liberation. And the people that held that sit-in for three days was my people, the people from STAR. We were there and everybody says, “Oh, it was because you didn’t have a place to live.” That wasn’t true, we could’ve picked up a trick and stayed at a hotel. But we were there for them. Marsha, myself, and everybody else. I mean, when they came in and threw us out there was nobody there except what they call the street people. Or the STAR people.

Eric : Was STAR formed already by then?

Sylvia : Actually STAR was born out of the N.Y.U. sit-in.

Eric : What does STAR mean.

Sylvia : Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

Eric : What was the reason for starting it?

Sylvia : My brothers and sisters kept on using us and we wanted to be by ourselves.

Eric : How many queens were involved in STAR? It was a small group? Three? Four?

Sylvia : It was very small.

Sylvia : It was like… It was myself, Marsha Johnson, Bambi Lamour, Endora… I had like several women in there. Okay, wait a minute.

Eric : So it was maybe a half-dozen.

Sylvia : Yeah, a half-dozen. Bebe. Bebe was part of my group at one time.

Sylvia Rivera demonstrating at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, fall 1970. Credit: ©Diana Davies, courtesy of Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Eric : Did you ever testify at City Hall with Bebe, for the gay rights bill?

Eric : Tell me about that.

Eric : I’ve heard stories.

Sylvia : Heh, heh, heh… Whoo… And Miss June Bartel. I think it must have been the first time that we went. And, you know, I gave them my point of view. And Bebe got up and gave her point of view. And then after that, you know, we said, “Well, we’ll play it cool, you know.” We went to the ladies room. Well, actually… No, we went to the ladies room, they wouldn’t let us in.

Eric : This is the police.

Sylvia : Yes. “It’s okay, we won’t go in there, we’ll just go into the men’s room.” We went to the men’s room. We came out. We, you know, fell out, you know, in a little line. And, I forget the councilman’s name. He says, “And why should I have my children being taught by them, men that dressed in women’s clothing.” Now, here Bebe is going to become a teacher, okay? And we’re like, “What is this man’s problem?” He just like really put us down.

So June comes out of the bathroom and she walks right in front of the council table and she says, “Where the fuck do you want me to go and take a piss at? Do you want me to take my pants down right here and piss in front of you?” And she’s standing there with this little mini and she pulled up the mini and there’s the G-string standing on and they’re like freaked out. Here’s June like, you know, they’re like, “Oh, my god, he’s gonna’ show it. Is it real?” And June very nicely says, “Oh, well, I guess we have to leave now.” And she just pulls back her clothes on and says, “Now, tell me where I can go piss.”

No, but I did testify. I testified a couple of times. And the gay rights bill, as far as I’m concerned, you know, to me, the gay rights bill and the people that I worked with on the gay rights bill and when I did all the petitioning and whatnot, when the bill was passed… That bill was mine as far as I’m concerned. I helped word it and I worked very hard for it. And that’s why I get upset when I give interviews and whatever, because the fucking community has no respect for the people that really did it. Drag queens did it. We did it, we did it for our own brothers and sisters. But, damn it, don’t keep shoving us in the fuckin’ back and stabbing us in the back and that’s… And that’s what really hurts. And it is very upsetting.

Eric : Not only do you get beaten up by the straights, you get beaten up by the gays.

Sylvia : You get beaten up by your own and that’s what hurts.

Marsha and I fought a lot for the liberation of our people. We did a lot back then. Marsha and I had a building on Second Street, which is called STAR House. And when we asked the community to help us, there was nobody to help us. We were nothing. We were nothing! And now we were taking care of kids that were younger than us. I mean, Marsha and I were young and we were taking care of them. And GAA had teachers and lawyers and whatnot and all we asked them was is, well, if you could help us teach our own so we can all become a little bit better. There was nobody there to help us. There was nobody.

Sylvia : They left us hanging. There was only one person that came and helped us. Once again is… Bob Kohler was there. He helped us paint. He helped us put wires together. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doin’. I mean, we took a building that was, I mean, a slum building. We tried. We really did. We went out and made that money off the streets to keep these kids off the street.

Eric : So you sold yourselves to take care of the kids.

Sylvia : Instead of showing them what we were doing. ‘Cause we already went through it.

Eric : Did you want to protect them? What were you protecting them from?

Sylvia : From the world. From life in general. There’s, you know, to show them that there was a better life.

Eric : Who were these other kids, the young ones? Where did they come from?

Sylvia : From everywhere. We had kids from Boston, California, everywhere. We had them…

Eric : Where were their families?

Sylvia : I guess at home.

Eric : So these were kids like you who had to leave.

Sylvia : They were good kids. I’ve seen a couple of them after, you know, the movement and whatnot. And they’re all… The ones that I’ve seen they’ve done very well. It makes you feel good.

Eric : Yeah, but If you’d your way, you would have had a building where kids could come and…

Sylvia : I woulda loved to have had, to be honest with you, like every time I see the commercial, Covenant House, I said, “I woulda loved to have had that.” I woulda loved to seen that, a STAR House for the children, for people that know… You know, these kids already knew. You always get that feeling, you know. You’re different, so go somewhere.

Eric : So they came here. But you needed the help of… I would imagine you and Marsha did not have resources, the experience, uh…

Sylvia : We just didn’t have any monies and we…

Eric : You needed the help of GAA or someone else…

Sylvia : We needed the monies from the community and the community was not going to help us.

[Frank returns home with the tomato sauce.]

Frank : I got two cans.

Sylvia : Oh, you did? Good. Let me finish this chili and then I’ll make the rice. Get the can opener. It’s all the way over there.

Eric : So is there anything, anything that I haven’t asked you, any story, anything that you’d like to… that I should know?

Sylvia : I’d like to do a lot more for the movement, but the movement just doesn’t want to deal with me.

Sylvia Rivera at a gay rights demonstration, Albany, New York, 1971. Credit: ©Diana Davies, courtesy of Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Sylvia Rivera (center) with partner Julia Murray (right) and friend Christina Hayworth sitting on a stone wall with a sign at their feet reading “Respect Trans People/Men!” on the day before New York’s 2000 Pride Parade. This is the first portrait of a transgender person in The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery collection. Credit: ©Luis Carle.
Sylvia’s dream of a safe place for LGBTQ youth came to an end when she and Marsha were evicted from the derelict building that was home to STAR House. But later that decade, in 1979, Dr. Emery Hetrick and his life partner Damien Martin, founded The Institute for the Protection of Lesbian and Gay Youth. It’s now called HMI and you can learn more about that organization in Making Gay History’s season two, in Joyce Hunter’s episode.

I wish I could say that in the years after I first met Sylvia, she lived happily ever after in North Tarrytown with her boyfriend. But her friend and partner in the movement Marsha P. Johnson died in 1992, and Sylvia’s life went off the rails. She wound up homeless and living on an abandoned pier near Greenwich Village.

Sylvia eventually stopped drinking and rejoined movement, and in 2001 even tried to re-start STAR, renaming it Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries, but she died of liver cancer a year later. Sylvia was 50 years old.

Sylvia Rivera (center) with partner Julia Murray (right) and friend Christina Hayworth on the day before New York’s 2000 Pride Parade. This is the first portrait of a transgender person to be included in The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery collection. Credit: @Luis Carle.

I’ve got a few people to thank for this first episode of season three, including our executive producer Sara Burningham and audio engineer, Anne Pope. We had production assistance from Josh Gwynn. Our theme music was composed by Fritz Meyers. Thank you, also, to social media strategist Will Coley, our webmaster, Jonathan Dozier-Ezell, and researchers, Bronwen Pardes and Zachary Seltzer. Our guiding light since the very first episode is Jenna Weiss-Berman.

The Making Gay History podcast is a co-production of Pineapple Street Media, with assistance from the New York Public Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division and ONE Archives at the USC Libraries.

Season three of this podcast is made possible with funding from the Ford Foundation, which is on the front lines of social change worldwide.


Transgender activist, advocate for drag queens and other gender non-conforming people, and the voice and support for countless queer youth, Sylvia Rivera was somebody who never quietly or calmly accepted the status quo. Her life spanned the second half of the twentieth century, a time when gay rights became a national topic and the fabric of the LGBTQ community changed drastically. Based in New York City for most of her life, Rivera fought for the inclusion of transgender people, drag queens, homeless queer youth, and others who had become marginalized by increasingly mainstream and exclusive gay rights campaigns. As a queer, Latina, and drag queen, Rivera lived her life on the margins and fought for others who refused to be pushed to the side or silenced in favor of more palatable gay rights legislation. Although much of her fame centers around her alleged (and contested) presence during the Stonewall Riot, Rivera&rsquos work spans far beyond that evening she was active in the community both before and after the riot, continuing her work right up until her untimely death in 2002. Rivera&rsquos voice of dissent is a reminder of those who are pushed to the side in the gay rights discourse, and her activism is a testament to the importance of addressing problems that affect those who fall through the cracks of the mainstream LGBT rights movement.

Rivera was born as Ray Rivera on July 2nd, 1951 to a Venezuelan mother in the Bronx, New York. Rivera&rsquos father, who was of Puerto Rican descent, quickly disappeared after Ray was born, only appearing once more in Rivera&rsquos life before disappearing forever. It wasn&rsquot long before the many obstacles Rivera would face began as she later recalled, &ldquoMy mother was 22 when she decided to off herself. She was having a shaky second marriage&hellip he threatened to kill her and me and my sister. I was three years old&rdquo, she recounted[1]. Orphaned from this point on, Rivera&rsquos grandmother took care of her for a period of time, but voiced her disapproval not only of Rivera&rsquos mixed background that made her skin darker than she preferred (Venezuelan and Puerto Rican), but also of her behavior, which was deemed too effeminate for a boy[2]. After Rivera&rsquos half-sister, Sonia, was taken away by her birth father, her grandmother resented her even more, and she often received beatings from her[3]. Rivera&rsquos experience in school as a child contributed to continued mockery and altercations with other students her wearing of make-up, which started in fourth grade, contributed to her ultimate abandonment of formal education when she was mocked in the sixth grade and called &ldquofaggot&rdquo by a fellow classmate[4]. After years of switching between living at her grandmothers&rsquo house, living at a Catholic boarding school, and living with various family friends for long periods of time, Ray Rivera left home at the age of 11, never to return. Her destination? Forty-second Street, an area that was home to a community of drag queens, sex workers, and those who were hustling inside and outside of the gay community of New York in the early 1960s.

Although Rivera had been engaging in sex work before she left home by hustling with her uncle to earn extra money, her experience living on her own at a young age with drag queens is what set the stage for her continued activism for transgender rights. Informally &ldquoadopted&rdquo by a group of young drag queens and adopting the name &ldquoSylvia&rdquo for herself, Rivera learned how to survive on the streets with their guidance, often changing sleeping location every night depending on where her friends could secure shelter[5]. Sylvia, like many young homeless queer youth and older LGBT people in New York City, often frequented Mafia-run bars, which were often the only places where they could maintain a sense of safety and community. Although not a typical drag queen bar, the Stonewall Inn was a place where many young men went to hustle, and people from across the city would use it as a hangout space and a place to escape after working all night.

The evening of the Stonewall Riot is hallmarked as the starting point of what is considered the modern gay rights movement, despite earlier outbreaks of resistance such as the Compton&rsquos Cafeteria Riot of 1966 in San Francisco and protests against police treatment of LGBTQ people across the country. Sylvia Rivera&rsquos presence at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969 has been widely debated, although she is often credited with &ldquothrowing the first brick&rdquo at the police that night[6]. Regardless of the degree of her participation in the frenzy that took place at the Stonewall Inn that night, Sylvia laid low for a few months afterward for unknown reasons. When her friend, Marsha P. Johnson, told her about meetings of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)[7], she jumped at the chance to become involved in the activity emerging in the aftermath of Stonewall[8]. Despite Sylvia&rsquos enthusiasm to be involved in these newly formed activists groups, such as the GLF and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) that would split from the GLF, from the beginning her identities as a street worker, drag queen, poor, and a Latina were troubling to the largely white, middle-class activist groups: According to Martin Duberman, a historian who has written extensively on the Stonewall riot and the people involved in it, &ldquoSylvia was from the wrong ethnic group, from the wrong side of the tracks, wearing the wrong clothes &ndash managing single-handedly and simultaneously to embody several frightening, overlapping categories of Otherness&rdquo[9]. This &ldquoOtherness&rdquo would continue to plague Sylvia as she navigated the territory of the GLF, GAA, and of the emerging gay rights movement as a whole. Despite the increasing conservative nature of the GAA, and their attempts to exclude trans people from their work, Sylvia continued to work within the group in hopes of achieving inclusion for all gender variant people.

Within the GLF, and later with the more mainstream GAA, Rivera was involved in the campaign to pass New York City&rsquos first gay rights bill, and fought tirelessly so that drag queens were included in the language of the bill. At one point, the GAA had decided to attend a meeting of the Greenwich Independent Democrats in order to bring them a petition they had circulated for the gay rights bill. After a councilwoman leading the meeting continuously refused to even look at the petition, Sylvia marched up to the front of the meeting and hit the councilwoman over the head with it[10]. She constantly fought for the inclusion of trans people and drag culture in the gay rights bill, and often conflicted with the mainstream gay advocacy organizations. When the bill was finally passed in 1986, it did not include any language addressing the need for the protection of drag queens, trans people, and other gender-variant people who did not fit neatly into the mainstream gay community that appealed to lawmakers. When she discovered this, Sylvia&rsquos response was: &ldquoHell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned"[11].

Despite the constant exclusion from the gay rights movement that she faced, Sylvia continued to be active during the 70&rsquos with her organization S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a group she formed with Marsha P. Johnson that focused on giving shelter to queer, homeless youth. Sylvia provided this service as a means to reach out to others like herself who were not able to access many of the gay-oriented resources in New York City due to their gender identity or presentation. Although active with S.T.A.R. for most of the 1970s, the organization &ldquodied&rdquo in 1973 according to Sylvia, and she became so disheartened by the state of the gay rights movement that she attempted suicide in 1974[12]. She eventually left New York City and moved to Tarrytown, New York and worked in food service management her activism there revolved around local drag shows and Pride Week activities[13]. Sylvia moved back to New York City sometime during the early 1990s and lived on a pier in the West Village. In 1995, she attempted suicide by walking into the Hudson River the same river where her close friend and co-founder of S.T.A.R., Marsha P. Johnson, was found dead in 1992. Sylvia revived S.T.A.R. on January 6, 2001 in an effort to make the murder of transwoman Amanda Milan well-known to the public[14]. Still retaining the determination she had from decades past, Sylvia declared &ldquoBefore I die, I will see our community given the respect we deserve. I&rsquoll be damned if I&rsquom going to my grave without having the respect this community deserves. I want to go to wherever I go with that in my soul and peacefully say I&rsquove finally overcome"[15]. On February 19, 2002, Sylvia passed away at the age of 50 due to complications from liver cancer. Even on her deathbed, she was working for trans inclusion in yet another mainstream gay rights organization, the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Sylvia Rivera worked tirelessly for a more inclusive and intersectional approach to LGBTQ activism. From the Stonewall Riot, to fighting for inclusive gay rights legislation, to living on the piers in solidarity with queer homeless youth, Rivera refused to take a seat and let others forget about those who had been &ldquoothered&rdquo by the mainstream gay rights movement. Her life serves as a testament to the power of resistance, and as a stark reminder that the fight to appear acceptable and palatable to mainstream America adopted by the mainstream gay rights movement is not everyone&rsquos struggle.


Activism & the Stonewall Riots

With the surge of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women&aposs Rights Movement and the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, Rivera&aposs activism began to take shape. In 1969, at age 17, she took part in the famous Stonewall Riots by allegedly throwing the second molotov cocktail in protest to a police raid of the gay bar the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. The event was one of the major catalysts of the gay liberation movement and to further push the agenda forward, Rivera co-founded the group, the Gay Liberation Front.

In later interviews, she reminisced about her special place in history. “We were the frontliners. We didn’t take no s**t from nobody. We had nothing to lose.”


Kristel was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands she was the elder daughter of an innkeeper, Jean-Nicholas Kristel, and his wife Pietje Hendrika Lamme. [7] [8] In her 2006 autobiography, Nue, she stated that she was sexually abused by an elderly hotel guest when she was nine years old, an experience she otherwise refused to discuss. Her parents divorced when she was 14 years old, after her father abandoned the family for another woman. "It was the saddest thing that ever happened to me," she said of the experience of her parents' separation. [9]

Kristel began modeling when she was 17 years old. In 1971, before becoming famous, she took part in an audition for the female lead in the film Last Tango in Paris (1972) but lost out to Maria Schneider. In 1973, she won the Miss TV Europe contest in 1973. She spoke Dutch, English, German, and Italian fluently, as well as several other languages to a lesser extent. Kristel gained international attention in 1974 for playing the title character in the softcore film Emmanuelle, which remains one of the most successful French films ever produced.

After the success of Emmanuelle, she often played roles that capitalized on that sexually provocative image, most notably starring in an adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), and a nudity-filled biopic of the World War I spy in Mata Hari (1985).

During the Seventies, she worked on lesser known films by prominent French directors including Claude Chabrol and Roger Vadim. She also starred next to Joe Dallesandro in Walerian Borowczyk' "La Marge", a success at the French box office.

She was originally cast to play the part of Stella in Roman Polanski's film The Tenant (1976) but, after one day of shooting, she was replaced by Isabelle Adjani. In 1977, she was invited to star as Hattie in Louis Malle's controversial erotic drama Pretty Baby (1978) but the role eventually went to Susan Sarandon instead. She was friends with Sergio Leone who wanted her to play the role of Carol in the movie Once Upon a Time in America (1984) the producers did not agree to her participation and the role went to Tuesday Weld. In 1982, she was turned down by Tony Scott for the role of Miriam in The Hunger (1983) Catherine Deneuve ended up playing the part. She was considered for the role of Lois Lane in Superman (1978), which went to Margot Kidder. Sylvia unsuccessfully applied for the role of a Bond Girl in the movies: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Octopussy (1983).

She rejected the main female roles in The Story of Adele H. (1975), King Kong (1976), Logan's Run (1976), Caligula (1979), Body Heat (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Scarface (1983), Dune (1984), Body Double (1984) and Blue Velvet (1986).

Her Emmanuelle typecasting image followed her to the United States, where she played Nicole Mallow, a maid who seduces a teenaged boy in the sex comedy Private Lessons (1981). [10] Another mainstream American film appearance was a brief comic turn in the Get Smart revival film The Nude Bomb in 1980.

Although Private Lessons was one of the highest-grossing independent films of 1981 (ranking number 28 in US domestic gross), [11] Kristel reportedly saw none of the profits and continued to appear in movies and last played Emmanuelle in the early 1990s. In May 1990, she appeared in the television series My Riviera, filmed at her home in Saint-Tropez and offering insights of her life and motivations in an interview with writer-director Michael Feeney Callan. Her friend, Gérard Depardieu, wanted to secure her comeback and unsuccessfully tried to persuade the producers of 1492: Conquest of Paradise to cast her as Queen Isabel. In 2001, she played a small role in Forgive Me, Dutch filmmaker Cyrus Frisch's debut. In May 2006, Kristel received an award at the Tribeca Film Festival, New York, for directing the animated short film Topor and Me, written by Ruud Den Dryver. The award was presented by Gayle King.

After a hiatus of eight years, she appeared in the film Two Sunny Days (2010), and that same year, in her last acting role, she played Eva de Leeuw in the TV series The Swing Girls. [ citation needed ]

In September 2006, Kristel's autobiography Nue (Nude) was published in France. The writing was translated into English as Undressing Emmanuelle: A Memoir, by Fourth Estate, 2 July 2007, in which she described a turbulent personal life that was blighted by addictions to drugs and alcohol, and her quest for a father figure, which resulted in some destructive relationships with older men. The book received some positive reviews. [12]

She had her first major relationship with Belgian author Hugo Claus, who was more than two decades her senior. Their union produced her only child, a son named Arthur, who was born in 1975. She left her husband for British actor Ian McShane, whom she had met on the set of the film The Fifth Musketeer (1979). [13] They moved in together in Los Angeles, where he had promised to help her launch her American career. However, their five-year affair led to no significant career break for Kristel, but a relationship she describes in her autobiography as "awful – he was witty and charming, but we were too much alike." She began using cocaine about two years into their relationship. This proved her downfall, although at the time she thought of it as a "supervitamin, a very fashionable substance, without danger, but expensive, far more exciting than drowning in alcohol – a fuel necessary to stay in the swing." [14] Sylvia Kristel also had a relationship with French singer Michel Polnareff. [15]

Kristel was interviewed in 2006 for the documentary Hunting Emmanuelle. She described how she made a number of poor decisions due to an expensive cocaine addiction. One of those mistakes included selling her interest in Private Lessons to her agent for US$150,000 the film grossed more than US$26 million domestically. After McShane, she married twice, first to Alan Turner, an American businessman. That marriage ended after five months, and she later married film producer Philippe Blot. She spent a decade with Belgian radio producer Fred De Vree, until his death. [16]

Her authorized biography was written by Dutch journalist Suzanne Rethans and was published in September 2019. It took Rethans more than three years to write it. Titled 'Begeerd en Verguisd'- Atlas Contact-ISBN 9789045033174 ('Desired and Vilified'), it has not yet been translated in the English language. [17]

Kristel was an extremely heavy cigarette smoker from the age of 11. She was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001 and underwent three courses of chemotherapy and surgery after the disease spread to her lungs. [18] On 12 June 2012, she suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in critical condition. [19] Four months later, she died in her sleep at age 60 from esophageal and lung cancer. [20] Kristel is buried at her place of birth in Utrecht, the Netherlands. [3]


Sylvia Rivera: Street Transgender Action Revolutionary

S ylvia Rivera was dying, but she kept up the struggle. On February 19th, 2002, as she was on her deathbed due to complications from liver cancer, she pressed on, as she always had, working for the inclusion of trans and gender nonconforming people in the mainstream gay rights organization, the Empire State Pride Agenda. Rivera died much in the way she lived: calling attention to the ways the concerns of queer and gender-variant people — especially those who were poor, homeless, and of color — were excluded within the Gay Rights Movement. As a queer, Latinx, transvestite drag queen, Rivera resisted being pushed to the margins as gay rights struggles became increasingly mainstream, cautioning that LGBTQ activism could not affect long-term and systemic change if it focused primarily on the concerns of the most “normal” members of the movement — white middle-class gays and lesbians — at the expense of the most vulnerable.

Sylvia was born Ray Rivera on July 2nd, 1951 in the Bronx, New York. Her mother was Venezuelan, and her father, who was Puerto Rican, left the family soon after Sylvia was born, and never returned. After Rivera’s mother committed suicide at the age of 22, she was raised by her grandmother, Viejita, who expressed disapproval for both her dark skin and her feminine behavior. Sylvia was intensely bullied for her femininity at home and at school, causing her to run away at the age of 10. She went to 42nd Street in New York, an area in the 1960s that was populated by a colorful mix of drag queens, sex workers, and other members of the gay community. The time Rivera spent on 42nd Street laid the foundation for her work as an activist. Engaging in sex work in order to survive, she renamed herself “Sylvia” and was adopted by a family of queens (the term “queen,” during the 1960s, generally referred to feminine gay men) who taught her to live on the streets. During this time she learned how difficult it was to survive as a queer gender-nonconforming person of color in 1960s New York.

One day, as Sylvia was hustling on 42nd, she spotted an older black queen — Marsha P. Johnson — who she was immediately drawn to. Fearless in both her appearance and her approach to life, Sylvia marched right up to Johnson and struck up a conversation. Marsha ended up inviting Sylvia out for a spaghetti dinner, and took her under her wing, teaching her how to apply her makeup and the rules of the street. The pair remained friends for the rest of their lives, and participated in many of the most significant early gay liberation struggles.

Sylvia and Marsha, like many other gay people at the time, frequented Mafia-run gay bars, one of the only spaces where gay and gender-variant people could congregate and form a sense of community. In 1969, the year of the landmark Stonewall Inn Riots, to be gay in the United States meant that one most likely lived a closeted life unless they found their way to an urban center such as Greenwich Village or San Francisco’s Castro District. Medical professionals regarded “homosexuality” not as a legitimate orientation, but as a mental illness. In New York State, it was recently determined that gay bars were not illegal, though many regarded serving alcohol to gay people and allowing them to dance together in public as criminal offenses. Gay bars were regularly raided, with patrons being subjected to police brutality in the form of physical and sexual violence. Drag queens and persons whom today we would refer to as transgender could be arrested for the crime of “masquerading,” or publicly wearing the clothes of a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth and as represented on their identity documents.

Within this cultural context was the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run gay bar located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. On the muggy night of June 28th a police raid, led by Inspector Seymour Pine of the New York Police Department, resulted in five days of rioting during which patrons of the Stonewall and other local queer and gender-nonconforming people fought back against the police and won. The Stonewall Inn Riots are the event most commonly cited as the catalyst of the Gay Rights Movement in the United States, despite earlier incidents of militant queer resistance, such as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot of 1966, and nearly two decades of organizing by early homophile groups such as the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis.

Rivera and Johnson, who were at Stonewall that night to celebrate Johnson’s birthday, were among the first patrons to throw bricks at the police, capitalizing on a prime opportunity for resistance, while others fled the scene. “I’m not missing a minute of this,” Sylvia told her comrades as the riots began, “it’s the revolution!” Poor street queens were the first to act, to ignite the anger that blossomed into a full-blown riot, because they were fed up and had little to lose. Though some argued the death of actress and singer Judy Garland, an icon of the gay community, inspired the riots, in reality, they were born from a moment of anger and spontaneity. Following Stonewall, and at Johnson’s encouraging, Sylvia kept up the struggle and began to attend meetings of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), newly-formed radical gay rights organizations.

Rivera soon learned that the multiple marginalized identities she occupied — queer, brown, sex worker, drag queen, gender nonconforming, feminine, poor — were troubling to movement leaders who were largely white middle-class gay men, and to a lesser extent, white middle-class lesbians. These leaders sought to pursue an agenda that often marginalized the concerns or queer and gender-nonconforming people of color who were not seen as “respectable.” As historian Martin Duberman observes of Rivera’s presence in the GLF and the GAA: “A Hispanic street queen’s transgressive being produced automatic alarm: Sylvia was from the wrong ethnic group, from the wrong side of the tracks, wearing the wrong clothes — managing single-handedly and simultaneously to embody several frightening, overlapping categories of Otherness.”

Sylvia cared little about labels and definitions, alternately referring to herself as a “drag queen,” a “transvestite,” or a “half sister.” That she insisted upon defining herself and her existence on her own terms further contributed to her reputation as a radical within gay liberation circles. Though contemporary scholars and activists have reclaimed Rivera as a transgender woman, she did not see herself this way. Though Sylvia loved to express her femininity by dressing in drag, she sometimes disliked the terms “drag queen” and “transvestite.” In the lingo of 42nd Street during the 1960s and ’70s, “drag queen” and “transvestite” were used to describe persons who dressed as women, but did not necessarily claim or desire to be women. The practice of drag, during the 1970s, was further differentiated as dressing as a woman specifically for stage performance, exemplified at the time by figures such as actress and Andy Warhol-muse Holly Woodlawn.

Though often referred to as a “drag queen,” Rivera did not actually perform drag, nor did she claim to be a woman. She identified simply as Sylvia, refusing to contort herself into the boxes or labels others created. And for this reason, among others, she was regarded as dangerous. Her very presence in the movement created change, serving as a reminder of those who existed on the fringes of gay activism. Though we can apply the label transgender — in particular, the way the term was forwarded by activists in the 1990s to refer to anyone who transgressed gender norms — to Rivera, this was not necessarily the way she saw herself, and her gender identity remained fluid throughout her life. “I’m tired of being labeled,” she said, in an essay written near the end of her life in 2002. “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.”

Sylvia’s struggles with “Otherness” in the GLF and the GAA led her and Johnson to form the activist group STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), to address the needs of poor street queens. The pair also created STAR House, a shelter of sorts for homeless youth, street queens, and hustlers. Both Sylvia and Marsha worked tirelessly for the inclusion of gender-nonconforming and queer people of color in the Gay Rights Movement despite their routine exclusion. Sylvia, for example, was frequently called upon by the GAA to front dangerous protests, only to be pushed aside by more “respectable” movement leaders when the media appeared.

Sylvia was also involved in the campaign to pass the New York City Gay Rights Bill, repeatedly insisting drag queens and other gender nonconforming people were included within the bill’s language. She was so insistent on the inclusion of drag queen and transvestite concerns that she was famously arrested after scaling the walls of City Hall — while wearing full makeup, a dress, and heels — to crash a closed-door meeting on the bill. When the bill eventually passed in 1986, it did not contain language to protect those who did not fit neatly into the mainstream movement. When Sylvia learned of this exclusion, she famously responded:

“Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.”

Rivera was routinely pushed to the margins not only by movement men, but by lesbian feminists as well. This exclusion was particularly evident in the events that led to Rivera’s delivery of her most well-known speech — referred to as “Y’all Better Quiet Down” — following the fourth annual Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in Washington Square Park in June of 1973. Though Rivera was scheduled to speak at the rally, she was blocked from taking the stage by the radical lesbian feminist and GAA member Jean O’Leary, who physically attacked her and accused her of mocking womanhood. Sylvia fought her way onto the stage and delivered an impassioned speech in which she called out the whiteness and class privilege that made the audience, and the Gay Rights and Women’s Liberation movements as a whole, blind to the needs of poor gender nonconforming and queer people of color:

“You all tell me, go and hide my tail between my legs. I will no longer put up with this shit. I have been beaten. I have had my nose broken. I have been thrown in jail. I have lost my job. I have lost my apartment. For gay liberation, and you all treat me this way? What the fuck’s wrong with you all? Think about that!”

After the rally, Rivera returned to STAR House and attempted suicide. Marsha P. Johnson found her in time to save her life, but her spirit was broken. O’Leary’s public betrayal caused Rivera to disband STAR and abstain from activism for two decades. Formally rejoining the movement in 1993, Sylvia changed the name of STAR to Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries, and rededicated herself to her community. O’Leary went on to become the co-chair of the National Gay Task Force. Her attack on Sylvia took place at a time when the GAA was becoming increasingly reformist and conservative, due to the political ambitions of many of its members. She eventually acknowledged that it was wrong for her to exclude Rivera, and others like her, from the movement, though the damage she inflicted could not be undone.

Sylvia was cremated, and her ashes reside at the Metropolitan Community Church of New York (MCCNY) in Midtown Manhattan, where she attended services and worked in the food pantry. In honor of her legacy of working on behalf of homeless queer youth and queer youth in crisis, MCCNY opened Sylvia’s Place, a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth, and renamed their food pantry The Sylvia Rivera Memorial Food Pantry. Never one to hide in the shadows, at Sylvia’s request, her ashes make an appearance every Sunday to attend mass with her chosen family and her many children.

The embrace of Rivera and Johnson by mainstream gay rights leaders only after their deaths shows the movement is not, and has never been, for all members of the LGBTQ community equally. This newfound celebration of their legacies ignores the ways poor street queens of color were undermined by the Gay Rights Movement. Sylvia and Marsha were not given the resources — by society at large or the movement — to achieve their full potential as revolutionary leaders. As we celebrate and uplift trans women of color revolutionaries, we should simultaneously critique the oppressive forces, past and present, that result in gender nonconforming people of color being left behind and left out. Had Sylvia been honored and supported as the visionary leader she was during her lifetime, she may have lived beyond the age of fifty.

Sylvia’s children — low income gender nonconforming and queer people of color — remain the most vulnerable. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the lives of transgender Americans are characterized by pervasive mistreatment and violence, severe economic hardship, and physical and mental health issues due to discrimination and lack of access to necessary resources. Let us not forget poor street queens of color created the blueprint for gay liberation. Let us not forget that these radical and visionary women were kept from living out their full potential. History should give great respect to those, like Sylvia Rivera, who refuse to be silent in the face of a society who tells them they are wrong and should not exist.

“I’d like to do a lot more for the movement,” she told historian Eric Marcus, “but the movement just doesn’t want to deal with me.”


Johnson’s story is featured in Pay It No Mind: Marsha P. Johnson (2012) and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017) and Happy Birthday, Marsha! (2017). In 2015, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute was established. Its mission is to defend and protect the human rights of transgender and gender nonconforming communities. Marsha is honored as a Stonewall instigator, a drag queen, an Andy Warhol model, an actress and a revolutionary trans activist.

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Watch the video: Called to serve - HRH The Nnabagereka Queen Sylvia Nagginda Luswata at TEDxEuston (October 2022).

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