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Stormé DeLarverie Death: Stonewall Activist Known as the Rosa Parks of the Gay Community, Dead at 93

First Posted: May 28, 2014 04:43 PM EDT
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Stormé DeLarverie, who participated in the New York Stonewall riots that led to the beginning of the gay rights movements in the United States, died at 93.

She died in a Brooklyn nursing home, according to Lisa Cannistraci, her longtime friend and one of her legal guardians. DeLarverie was born in 1920 to a black mother and white father. She was "born into adversity and lived in adversity her whole life," Cannistraci said.

She performed as a male impersonator in the 1950s as part of the Jewel Box Revue, a traveling drag show. She rioted against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. The riots were spontaneous and violent, and they were known as the Stonewall riots.

The riots took place on June 28, 1969.

Few places welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s, but bars mostly did. The Mafia owned the Stonewall Inn at that point, and police officers often raided bars at the time. They were not successful at Stonewall because they attracted a crowd, starting a riot. There were protests in Greenwich Village that night and a few days later, too. That's when residents of Greenwich started forming activist groups.

Some people have dubbed DeLarverie as the gay community's Rosa Parks.

"She was a very serious woman when it came to protecting people she loved," Cannistraci said.

DeLarverie suffered from dementia, but was able to take note of important moments for the gay community, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York and the U.S. Supreme Court's overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Bronx LGBTQ Community Services said, "The Bronx LGBTQ Center is deeply saddened by the loss of a pioneer of the modern-day LGBTQ civil rights movement, Stormé Delarverie. Often referred to as the "Rosa Parks" as the gay rights movement, Stormé was a fierce woman who stood up for our community on countless occasions. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of Saturday, May 24, 2014."

Her funeral is planned for Thursday.

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