Stormé DeLarverie (December 24, 1920 – May 24, 2014), who was born in New Orleans to a white father and black mother, was a lesbian whose rumored scuffle with police was one of the defining moments of the Stonewall riots, spurring the crowd to action.
At the Stonewall riots, a scuffle broke out when a woman in handcuffs, who may have been Stormé, was escorted from the door of the bar to the waiting police wagon several times. She escaped repeatedly and fought with four of the police, swearing and shouting, for about ten minutes. Described as "a typical New York butch" and "a dyke–stone butch", she had been hit on the head by an officer with a baton for, as one witness claimed, complaining that her handcuffs were too tight. Bystanders recalled that the woman, whose identity remains unknown (Stormé has been identified by some, including herself, as the woman, but accounts vary,[a] sparked the crowd to fight when she looked at bystanders and shouted, "Why don't you guys do something?" After an officer picked her up and heaved her into the back of the wagon, the crowd became a mob and went "berserk": "It was at that moment that the scene became explosive." Some have referred to that woman as "the gay community’s Rosa Parks".
During the 1950s and '60s Stormé toured the black theater circuit as the only drag king of the Jewel Box Revue, America’s first racially integrated female impersonation show. In 1987 Michelle Parkerson made the movie Stormé: The Lady of the Jewel Box about this. In the 1980s and '90s Stormé worked as a bouncer for several lesbian bars in New York City. From 2010 to 2014, she lived in a nursing home in Brooklyn.
On June 7, 2012, Brooklyn Pride, Inc. honored Stormé DeLarverie at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. Michelle Parkerson's film Stormé: The Lady of the Jewel Box was screened. On April 24, 2014 Stormé was honored alongside Edie Windsor by the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and received a Proclamation from the Public Advocate of the City of New York, Letitia James. She died of a heart attack on May 31, 2014 in Brooklyn.
- Accounts of people who witnessed the scene, including letters and news reports of the woman who fought with police, conflicted. Where witnesses claim one woman who fought her treatment at the hands of the police caused the crowd to become angry, some also remembered several "butch lesbians" had begun to fight back while still in the bar. At least one was already bleeding when taken out of the bar (Carter, pp. 152–153). Craig Rodwell (in Duberman, p. 197) claims the arrest of the woman was not the primary event that triggered the violence, but one of several simultaneous occurrences: "there was just ... a flash of group—of mass—anger."
- Goethals, George (2004). Encyclopedia of Leadership - Volume 1. Thousand Oaks: Berkshire Publishing Group LLC. p. 1494. ISBN 0-7619-2597-X.
- Chu, Grace (2010-07-26). "An interview with lesbian Stonewall veteran Stormé DeLarverie | People, Celebrities, Actresses & Profiles Of Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Women In Movies, TV Shows & Music". AfterEllen.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
- Stormé DeLarverie Afterellen.com[dead link]
- "WOMEN MAKE MOVIES | Storme The Lady of the Jewel Box". Wmm.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
- The gay & lesbian theatrical legacy ... - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
- Fernandez, Manny (June 27, 2010). "A Stonewall Veteran, 89, Misses the Parade". New York Times.