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An SGL Black Sheroes & Heroes Monthly Series
June's Focus:
Storme' DeLarverie (1920-2014)



K. Stormé DeLarverie was born 'way down yonder' in New Orleans, Louisiana.  It was incredibly not long after the end of World War I (One) on Christmas Eve, December 24 of 1920 -- ironically and prophetically, the year that American women won the right to vote in America!  To quote Stormé: "I've been fighting for the Gay community ever since!" Stormé has a silvery baritone voice with a jazz-oriented sound.  In the 1940s, Stormé was a solo performer with a three-piece band.  Stormé is probably best known for being part of the legendary Jewel Box Revue, a popular "drag" performance group which toured America -- not always under the best of accommodations or circumstances. 

The Jewel Box Revue ensemble was composed of two dozen males dressed beautifully and seductively as females and one biological female dressed very gentlemanly and convincingly as a man:  Stormé!  It's a role he does persuasively on stage and off.  During the 1950s and the 1960s, Stormé was the Jewel Box's only male impersonator. He did so as a fine gentleman.  The entertaining uniqueness was that the entire talented troupe were in gender-bender roles -- all except one!  The "J.B." was a forerunner to the Broadway musical of the mid-1980s, "La Cage aux Folles".  Unlike the latter, the J.B. confronted acceptance, joyousness, praise and fulfillment on one side but segregation, prejudice, scorn and sadness on the other side of the coin.


Stormé DeLarverie initially got involved with the STONEWALL Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") when it happenstancely began spiritually the very first night of the Stonewall Rebellion, Friday, June 27th, 1969 at The Stonewall Club in Greenwich Village, NYC.  Stormé had just returned to New York City from entertainment touring with the famous Jewel Box Revue.  The S.V.A. officially formed exactly two weeks later on Friday, July 11th of that exciting year 1969.  Storme was there! 



=Storme on Stonewall=

"It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil rights disobedience -- it wasn't no damn riot", declared Stormé at a public and videographed SVA-sponsored "Stonewall Symposium", referring to the historic 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.  Stormé was a part of the uprising on the very first night, Friday, June 27th.  "The cops were parading patrons out of the front door of The Stonewall at about two o' clock in the morning.  I saw this one boy being taken out by three cops, only one in uniform.  Three to one!  I told my pals, 'I know him!  That's Williamson, my friend Sonia Jane's friend.'  Williamson briefly broke loose but they grabbed the back of his jacket and pulled him right down on the cement street.  One of them did a drop kick on him.  Another cop senselessly hit him from the back.  Right after that, a cop said to me:  'Move faggot', thinking that I was a Gay guy.  I said, 'I will not!  And, don't you dare touch me."  With that, the cop shoved me and I instinctively punched him right in his face.  He bled!  He was then dropping to the ground -- not me!" 




Stormé is known, too, for adapting memorable sayings and witty warnings.   For example, if someone says or asks something that Stormé perceives as insulting to his intelligence or not too smart, he'll say, "I didn't fall off of the back of a turnip truck".  A favorite song of Stormé's, "It Ain't Easy Being Green", is also a favorite expression. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people can easily relate to that song simply substituting 'green' with 'Gay'. And that's exactly Stormé's point: "It ain't easy being Gay".  Sho 'nuff, y'all! Relating to age, or not relating to it, King Stormé rightly says, while inimitably mixing maxims:  "Age ain't nothing but a number -- if you don't mind it, it don't matter". Overall, reviewing life and his philosophy of himself, Stormé tells it like it is (another song):  "What you see is what you get".  Allright!

Storme DeLarverie with Godson AnDre Christie




SOURCE: STONEWALL Veterans' Association

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