"Sexuality need not be the focus of the stories written about either of these women; their accomplishments took place outside of their bedrooms. But sexuality is part of who they are — who we all are — it’s an important part of the story, and it matters how that story is told."—Rosamond S. King, Ph.D., in “Lesbians and Their Husbands”
"For decades she was a self-appointed guardian of lesbians in the Village.
Tall, androgynous and armed — she held a state gun permit — Ms. DeLarverie roamed lower Seventh and Eighth Avenues and points between into her 80s, patrolling the sidewalks and checking in at lesbian bars. She was on the lookout for what she called ‘ugliness’: any form of intolerance, bullying or abuse of her ‘baby girls.’
Ms. DeLarverie had grown up in the South, of mixed race, and spent part of the first half of her life singing and performing as a man. Identity, for her, had been especially complicated, and she did not want others persecuted for theirs.”—The New York Times, May 29, 2014
You can be certain that Cheryl Clarke knows a dactyl from an iamb, and you can be damn sure that she would never choose to resolve her conflicts in couplets. Her poems aren’t about resolution anyway. They’re about standing your ground when the only weapon you have is your tongue. They’re about believing that your tongue, that muscle of language and love, is enough. Watch out: Cheryl Clarke is armed and dangerous. —Julie Marie Wade, review of Living as a Lesbian
A living legend is no longer with us. Stormé DeLarverie, a lesbian activist who participated in the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, died Saturday in Brooklyn. She was 93.
Although DeLarverie passed away peacefully in her sleep, she will be remembered always as a courageous fighter and trailblazer of the LGBT civil rights movement. Her confrontation with police at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969 helped spark the historic uprising that we now commemorate every year with Pride. For that reason, she became widely known as the Rosa Parks of gay rights.
A New Orleans native, DeLarverie was born in 1920 to a black mother and a white father. As a biracial lesbian growing up in the South, she faced more than her share of adversity. As Lisa Cannistraci, her longtime friend and legal guardian, told the Associated Press, “[she was born into adversity and lived in adversity her whole life.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, DeLarverie was part of a traveling drag show, The Jewel Box Revue, in which she performed as a male impersonator. There are a number of photos of her from this period: rocking a tuxedo, looking dapper in a flannel suit, or brooding like a bad boi in a leather jacket. And inside those flamboyant clothes was a hero with a heart of gold.
"She was not someone who tolerated injustice, though she faced it on an almost daily basis throughout much of her life," said Peter C. Frank, co-founder of the Bronx LGBTQ Center. "Stormé was a black lesbian who often presented as a black man, although she could easily have passed for a white woman—she chose not to do so. Her love of people made Stormé an advocate, and she stood up to all injustice whenever she encountered or heard about it."
We can all learn from her brave example.
DeLarverie’s funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, May 29 at Greenwich Village Funeral Home, 199 Bleecker Street, from 7pm to 9pm.
On Thursday May 22, 2014, the Schomburg Center’s In the Life Archive series, Ordinary People, will feature the program Outing Lorraine, an engaging panel discussion about imposing gay and lesbian labels on public figures who never publicly identified as such. This conversation centers…
“….I didn’t have to leave my feminism outside the door to be accepted as I would in a conservative Black political context. I didn’t have to leave my lesbianism outside. I didn’t have to leave my race outside, as I might in an all-white-women’s context where they didn’t want to know all of that. So, it was just really wonderful… to be our whole selves….”—
"Because dyke hands are the sexual organs of lesbian love, they can be as shocking to view as the penis through an open fly, or as bold (delicious) to behold as the breast of a womon suddenly uncovered." —SDiane Bogus, “Dyke Hands,” in Dyke Hands & Sutras Erotic & Lyric
Trumpeter and vocalist Ernestine “Tiny” Davis (right) and her partner, drummer, pianist and bassist Ruby Lucas, lived together for 40 years. Tiny was a part of the all-female swing band, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, in the 1940s; before that, in the ’30s,…
"Now her estate has created the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust, a virtual space that will offer all things Hansberry and showcase her as a writer, public intellectual and civil rights activist. The site, lorrainehansberryliterarytrust.org, is scheduled to go live on April 1, Joi Gresham, the director and co-trustee of Hansberry’s literary trust said Monday. …The website will offer never-before released photographs of Hansberry; a connection to her archive at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; biographical information; video clips of her television interviews and productions of her plays; and audio of her radio interviews,her speeches, and cast recordings. Included is a bibliography of Hansberry’s essays and articles, including her work as journalist for The Village Voice and other leftist publications and examples of Hansberry’s drawings, sketches and paintings."—Felicia Lee, in The New York Times
"Were Audre Lorde here today—and I really wish she was—she would be saying the same things she said before she left us. Her words are everlasting. Our silence still does not protect us—for long. The master’s tools will still never dismantle the master’s house—unless, like language, we use them differently. Do we still live in the ‘country’ of ‘afraid’? Yes, we do, but we leave it from time to time—though we are never free of it even as we face off our deepest fears like the loss of a dearest love, a limb, a breast."—Cheryl Clarke
"This is as it should be for any writer with a conscience and commitment to her community—they live for us in their words. It is for us to remember to use the well of wisdom and insight they’ve created."—Jewelle Gomez, remembering Audre Lorde