It was an absolutely perfect weekend, wasn’t it? As close to bliss as I’ve ever come at a Pride parade. Things finally seem to be going our way. The LGBT movement is in some pretty capable hands. We’ve got lovely leaders like Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Rachel Maddow, Dustin Lance Black… well-spoken and likable individuals who get their points across without being shocking or divisive. Of course it wasn’t always like that. Stonewall wasn’t about being “mainstream” or getting legislation passed. It was about fucking up the status quo. It was about staying out of jail. It was about being heard through any means necessary. The people who started the gay revolution (and that’s what it was – a GODDAMN REVOLUTION), were messy drag queens who threw rocks and bricks and bottles at the police because they had fucking HAD IT.
Sylvia Rivera was one of those queens. And though she is venerated now, and her name inspires our awe and respect as one of the great gay, drag, and transgender activists of the 20th century (she was a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, and with her close friend, Marsha P. Johnson, co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens and trans women of color), it’s worth remembering that – back in the day – she was a loud-mouth rabble-rouser and professional shit-stirrer.
Watch this FAAAAAAAAABULOUS speech of hers from the 1973 Gay liberation rally in New York City. THIS is where your Pride comes from, kids. This is who fought and bled so that you could be your fabulous self. It’s not pretty. It’s not presentable for cable-news. But it’s your history. “I have been to jail,” Sylvia screams at the crowd. “I have been raped! And beaten! Many times! By men! Heterosexual men! Who do not belong in the homosexual shelters! But did you do anything for me? No! You tell me to GO! Hide my tail between my legs! But I WILL NO LONGER PUT UP WITH THIS SHIT. I have been beaten. I have had my nose broke. I have been thrown in jail. I have lost my job. I have lost my apartment. ALL FOR GAY LIBERATION. And you all treat me this way? What the fuck is wrong with you all?!
Watch it below.
(via Lady Bunny)