Devastating news out of South Florida today, as COVID-19 claimed the life of the legendary Henrietta Robinson, one of the first transgender people to live openly in South Florida. Henrietta aka the Mother of Miami Beach, the Grand Lady of South Beach, and the Queen of South Beach, was a longtime presence on the scene there and had been instrumental in the area’s LGBTQ nightlife and drag scene since 1959. She was 79.
She had apparently gone into the hospital for a hernia surgery, and contacted the virus during her stay.
“She kind of was the godmother of all of us,” Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora told the New Times. “Always somebody happy to lend a smile, a nice comment, or word of advice.”
“Henrietta was a pioneer in the LGBTQ+ community,” Miami Beach Pride said on Facebook. “One of the first Transgender individuals to live her life in Miami Beach. She was beacon of light in the Transgender movement and a mentor to so many who struggled through the years.”
via The Advocate:
Robinson was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1941. She later moved to Milton, Mass., before settling in South Beach in 1959. Robinson immediately set about to make an impact. Her drag performances were legendary before they were even legal.
“Honey, I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Robinson told the Miami New Times in 1994. “We used to have great old places back in the early Sixties.”
But she faced dangers in the pre-Stonewall era.
“Dressing up was illegal back then,” Robinson continued. “If you so much as wore eye make-up or even a woman’s scarf in a club it was right to jail.”
Rest in Power, Henrietta Robinson.