Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries

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Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) -- later renamed Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries[1]—was a gay and transgender activist organization founded in 1970 by Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson,[2] subculturally-famous New York City drag queens of color.[2][3]

Early years[edit]

Both founders were long-term civil rights activists, and were present during the 1969 Stonewall riots and the intense period of gay organizing that began in the wake of Stonewall.[4]

Johnson and Rivera were often homeless, and part of the queer community at the Christopher Street piers.[5] They took in homeless LGBT youth, especially young queens and transwomen of color.[6] Rivera and Johnson used to hustle the streets in order to keep everyone fed and sheltered, and to keep their children from having to do the same.[3][5]

Begun as a caucus of the Gay Liberation Front,[5] STAR was created to advocate on behalf of homeless drag queens and runaways.[2][5] They also created STAR House, a shelter for this population.[3][5]

Later activism by founders[edit]

As the mainstream of the gay community became more assimilationist, Rivera in particular often found herself at odds with New York pride parade organizers and other LGBT groups that practiced "respectability politics" or who saw drag as misogynist.[5] Despite mainstream opposition, she continued to press for the inclusion of trans, and all gender-nonconforming people, in LGBT organizations and legislation.[3][5]

Johnson was later an activist and organizer with ACT-UP. She died in 1992. While her death was initially ruled a suicide, some friends believe she was murdered.[2][4]


In 2001, after being honoured in Italy, Rivera briefly "resurrected" and renamed STAR[1] and worked to advance the fight for the transgender civil rights bill in New York City and State and to fight for self-determination for all gender non-conformists.[5]

Rivera died of liver cancer in 2002.[6]


In 2013, Untorelli Press published Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries: Survival, Revolt, and Queer Antagonist Struggle, a collection of historical documents, interviews, and critical analyses relating to STAR.[7]

In an interview in the 2012 documentary, Pay It No Mind: The Life & Times of Marsha P. Johnson, Johnson credits Rivera with founding STAR, and Johnson and friends discuss the work accomplished by the group.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b SoundPortraits (July 4, 2001). Update on Remembering Stonewall.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Feature Doc 'Pay It No Mind: The Life & Times of Marsha P. Johnson' Released Online. Watch It". Indiewire. December 26, 2012. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Feinberg, Leslie (September 24, 2006). Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Workers World Party. "Stonewall combatants Sylvia Rivera and Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson... Both were self-identified drag queens."
  4. ^ a b Feinberg, Leslie (1996) Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-8070-7941-3
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Shepard, Benjamin Heim and Ronald Hayduk (2002) From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization. Verso. pp.156-160 ISBN 978-1859-8435-67
  6. ^ a b Sylvia Rivera's obituary via MCCNY
  7. ^ "Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries: Survival, Revolt, and Queer Antagonist Struggle". Untorelli Press. 

External links[edit]