“It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil rights disobedience— it wasn’t no damn riot.”
- Stormé DeLarverie
Often referred to as the Rosa Parks of the Gay Community, Stormé DeLarverie led a life true to herself and the ones she loved. Delarverie played a central role in the Stonewall uprising and continued to make an impact on the community up until her death in 2014.
Stormé DeLarverie was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and was always a performer. As a teenager, she joined the Ringling Brothers Circus in which she rode jumping horses. From 1955 to 1969, DeLarverie toured the black theater circuit as the MC, and only drag king, of the Jewel Box Revue-- the first racially integrated drag revue in North America.
Image from New York Times
In 1969, settled in New York, she became a bouncer at the lesbian bars around the city, and became known as the guardian of the village. On June 28th, 1969, the night of the police raid at Stonewall Inn, the story goes that a woman was struck by an officer and struck back-- while the woman hasn’t been identified, many believe it was Stormé. Either way, she was at the center of the violence that ignited the resistance against the police brutality waged on the gay community for decades.
After Stonewall, DeLarverie continued to advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community and women. She became known as the guardian of the lesbians in the village and held leadership positions in the Stonewall Veteran’s Association. DeLarverie also advocated for survivors of domestic abuse by organizing and performing at fundraisers for survivors of domestic abuse and their children.
Stormé is one of the pioneers of Pride. She helped lead the uprising against alienation from greater society and it’s because of people like her that we are able to come out and celebrate who we are openly.
About the design:
Featuring an illustrated Greenwich Village Cityscape and the Stonewall Inn itself, the design is a direct homage to where Stormé left her legacy. Some versions of the shirt have the phrase “Pride was an uprising” which is a nod to her quote above on how Pride was an act of civil disobedience, and that it was not, in fact, a riot.
On upcycled pieces in this collection, you will find elements that represent a stage for her years as a performer, a crown for time spent as a Drag King, or the phrase, which are reflective of her history of being an entertainer, a drag king, and an activist.