Women’s History Month: Sylvia Rivera

For the last day of Women’s History Month, I give you Sylvia Rivera, proud, out, trans woman who participated in the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969, and only a year later watched as gender and trans rights were disappeared from the new Gay Rights’ movement’s agenda.

On June 27, 1969, Rivera was in the crowd that gathered outside the Stonewall Inn after word spread that it had been raided by police. The sight of arrested patrons being led from the bar by authorities riled the crowd, but it was Rivera who threw one of the first Molotov cocktails that actually initiated the riots and sent Stonewall into the history books.

In 1970 Rivera joined the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) and worked on its campaign to pass the New York City Gay Rights Bill. She attracted media attention when she attempted to force her way into closed-door sessions concerning the bill held at City Hall. In spite of Rivera’s (and other drag queens’) participation in the GAA, the organization decided to exclude transgender rights from the Gay Rights Bill so that it would be more acceptable to straight politicians.

Rivera was shocked and betrayed by this decision. She also became disillusioned with the gay rights movement in general and dismayed by the backlash against drag queens that had developed by the mid-1970s.

Perhaps already sensing that transgendered people could not rely on the gay rights movement to advocate for their civil rights, in 1970 Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson had formed a group called Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.). The members of this organization aimed to fight for the civil rights of transgendered people, as well as provide them with social services support.

At this time, Rivera and Johnson began operating S.T.A.R. House in the East Village, which provided housing for poor transgendered youth. S.T.A.R. House lasted for two years, but was then closed because of financial and zoning problems. Although in existence only a short time, S.T.A.R. House is historically significant because it was the first institution of its kind in New York City, and inspired the creation of future shelters for homeless street queens.

Shelters seems like an exaggeration, since the only other I know of is Transy House (which was around the corner from where we lived in Park Slope). I’m pleased to see the Day of Silence and GLSEN are honoring her as well this year.

Which Side Are You On?

Rachel Maddow presents a long overdue analysis of the difference between the rhetoric (“limited government”) and what’s really going on (eg mandatory drug testing).

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This has baffled me for a long time — how it is, exactly, that the people who stand for small government still want the government big enough to make sure women don’t get abortions and gays don’t have sex (or employment, or legal rights, etc).

So conservative friends, family, readers: which is it?


ENDA has been re-introduced in the House as of today, according to NCTE and TLDEF. More updates as they come through.

Filtered, No Doubt

It turns out that some high schools are filtering out sites like GLAAD’s, or the It Gets Better campaign. Honestly? It just pisses me off. God forbid we help save the lives of at-risk youth; somehow that’s perceived as advanding the so-called gay agenda.

If White Power youths were committing suicide at alarming rates, we would all want to see them stop. What is it about LGBT youth that people are so hateful about? Is it this proposed ‘gay agenda’? How is it that homosexuality has trumped even suicide as a sin against God?

They drive me nuts. At least the ACLU is on it. You can check your school’s filtering and report them if necessary.

Canine Fine Dining

This is just too brilliant: surreal, funny, deeply human in some way that’s utterly bizarre:

Just genius: I can’t stop watching it.