Sylvia Rivera Biography
Sylvia Rivera Biography
Sylvia Rivera Biography
Sylvia Rivera Biography
Sylvia Rivera Biography
Sylvia Rivera Biography

Sylvia Rivera Biography

The Powerful LGBT Activists

Sylvia Rivera

Known For: Gay liberation | Transgender Activist

Occupation: Activist, Caterer, Entertainer

Birth Date: July 2, 1951 (New York City, US)

Beginning Of Activism

Rivera's activism began in 1970 after she participated in actions with the Gay Liberation Front's Drag Queen Caucus and later joined the Gay Activists Alliance at 18 years old, where she fought for not only the rights of gay people but also for the inclusion of drag queens like herself in the movement. Rivera sometimes exaggerated her importance, purporting to have been active during the civil rights movement, the movement against the Vietnam war, second-wave feminist movements, as well as Puerto Rican and African American youth activism, particularly with the Young Lords and the Black Panthers but she could not prove her claims. Rivera's older friend Marsha P. Johnson had been Rivera's protector and friend since Rivera arrived in the City, and the two were close friends from 1961 through 1973. In 1970, Rivera and Johnson co- founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). STAR offered services and advocacy for homeless queer youth, and fought for the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York. SONDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.

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Stonewall Riots

While Johnson freely admitted to not being the one to start the Stonewall riots, Johnson is one of the few people whom multiple, independent witnesses all agree was instrumental in the week of rioting and "known to have been in the vanguard" of the pushback against police once the rioting peaked late the first night. After Johnson was being praised for being involved in the Stonewall uprising, Rivera began claiming that she (Rivera) was also instrumental in the riots, even going so far as to have claimed to have started the riots herself. Stonewall historian David Carter, however, questioned Rivera's claims of even being at the riots, based on contradictory statements that Rivera made, and on testimony relayed to him by early gay rights activists, such as Marsha P. Johnson, who denied in multiple interviews that Rivera had been there.

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