#30DaysofPride: Day 28- Sylvia Rivera

In honor of today being The 50th anniversary of the stonewall uprising in the place where it all began, NYC, today I am talking about Sylvia rivera, our Trans sister who helped pave the way to make sure we can have our rights. In 1969, Sylvia was homeless and on the streets and on June 28 of that year, she threw a brick through the window of the Stonewall Inn as a signifying of wanting a change.

During the 70s she founded an organization to get homeless trans people off the streets, they called it STAR House.

With few others willing to pick up the slack, Rivera felt compelled to help trans kids who ended up homeless and hustling. She started to call them “her children.” After Stonewall, in 1970, she started an organization called Street Transvestite Active Revolutionary, and later a home called STAR House. She and her partner kept both afloat with their sex work so her children wouldn’t have to hustle. The kids stole food for people living in STAR

Soon after STAR started, Rivera heard that an uprising against police brutality was kicking off uptown, led by the Young Lords, a revolutionary group of young Puerto Ricans. She and other members of STAR beat a path to Spanish Harlem, and marched alongside the Young Lords. “That was one of the first times the STAR banner was shown in public,” Rivera recalled, “where STAR was present as a group.” Rivera was surprised, happily, by the “respect they gave us as human beings.”

From the Timeline article: Sylvia Rivera threw one of the first bottles in the Stonewall riots, but her activism went much further.

She was an activist for poor queer people, she fought for disenfranchised people and helped to make sure they got what they needed.

At NYC Pride in 1973, she had a very famous speech. It was moving to hear because she is so emotional. It’s called “Y’all better quiet down”.

Y’all better quiet down. I’ve been trying to get up here all day for your gay brothers and your gay sisters in jail that write me every motherfucking week and ask for your help and you all don’t do a goddamn thing for them.
Have you ever been beaten up and raped and jailed? Now think about it. They’ve been beaten up and raped after they’ve had to spend much of their money in jail to get their [inaudible], and try to get their sex changes. The women have tried to fight for their sex changes or to become women. On the women’s liberation and they write ‘STAR,’ not to the women’s groups, they do not write women, they do not write men, they write ‘STAR’ because we’re trying to do something for them.
I have been to jail. I have been raped. And beaten. Many times! By men, heterosexual men that do not belong in the homosexual shelter. But, do you do anything for me? No. You tell me to go and hide my tail between my legs. I will not 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!
I do not believe in a revolution, but you all do. I believe in the gay power. I believe in us getting our rights, or else I would not be out there fighting for our rights. That’s all I wanted to say to you people. If you all want to know about the people in jail and do not forget Bambi L’amour, and Dora Mark, Kenny Metzner, and other gay people in jail, come and see the people at Star House on Twelfth Street on 640 East Twelfth Street between B and C apartment 14.
The people are trying to do something for all of us, and not men and women that belong to a white middle class white club. And that’s what you all belong to!
REVOLUTION NOW! Gimme a ‘G’! Gimme an ‘A’! Gimme a ‘Y’! Gimme a ‘P’! Gimme an ‘O’! Gimme a ‘W’! Gimme an ‘E! Gimme an ‘R’! [crying] Gay power! Louder! GAY POWER!
(From the Internet Archive entry: Sylvia Rivera “Y’all Better quiet down”)
Rivera was an activist for 50+ years, she moved away after this speech was given only to move back to NYC after the death of her best friend Marsha P Johnson. She was homeless until she found solace in the same place that she helped found. Sylvia passed away in 2002 from liver cancer. She was a true angel and the mother of modern day pride. Happy pride Sylvia!!!!!

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