Sylvia Rivera



Sylvia Rivera
July 2, 1951
February 19, 2002
Bronx, New York
New York, New York

Sylvia Rivera was a Latina-American cross dresser who was a gay and transsexual extremist during the 1960s and 70s. She’s known for taking an interest in the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and building up the political association STAR.

Who Was Sylvia Rivera?

Sylvia Rivera was a Latina-American cross dresser who got one of the most extreme gay and transsexual activists of the 1960s and 70s. As prime supporter of the Gay Liberation Front, Rivera was known for taking an interest in the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and setting up the political association STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with individual companion and cross dresser, Marsha P. Johnson.

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project

To pay tribute to Rivera’s activism in the gay and trans network, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) was established in 2002 — the exact year of her demise. As a legitimate guide association, SRLP “attempts to ensure all individuals are allowed to self-decide sexual orientation personality and articulation, paying little heed to salary and race, and without confronting badgering, separation or brutality” by giving gay, trans and sex liquid people admittance to lawful administrations, just as showing initiative and backing abilities.


Conceived on July 2, 1951, in the Bronx, New York, Rivera had an upset adolescence. Hailing from Puerto Rican and Venezuelan plummet, Rivera was surrendered by her dad soon after birth and stranded as a little child when her mom ended it all.

Raised by her grandma, Rivera was dismissed and beaten for her delicate conduct. By age 11, she fled from home and turned into a kid whore, working in the Times Square region. While living in the city, Rivera met a gathering of cross dressers who invited her into their overlay, and it was with their help, she became “Sylvia” and distinguished as a cross dresser. Sometime down the road, she would view herself as transsexual, in spite of the fact that she loathed marks.

With the flood of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement and the Vietnam War fights of the 1960s, Rivera’s activism started to come to fruition. In 1969, at age 17, she partook in the renowned Stonewall Riots by purportedly tossing the second molotov mixed drink in dissent to a police assault of the gay bar the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. The occasion was one of the significant impetuses of the gay freedom development and to additionally push the plan forward, Rivera helped to establish the gathering, the Gay Liberation Front.

In later meetings, she thought back about her uncommon spot ever. “We were the frontliners. We didn’t take no s**t from no one… We didn’t have anything to lose.”

Fellow benefactor of STAR with Marsha P. Johnson

Alongside the foundation of the Gay Liberation Front, Rivera collaborated with companion Marsha P. Johnson to help establish STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a gathering that helped help and engage gay, trans, and sex liquid youth, in 1970.

Insubordinate of names, Rivera jumbled numerous in the standard gay freedom development as her very own result various and complex foundation: She was poor, trans, a cross dresser, a non-white individual, a previous sex laborer, and somebody who additionally experienced chronic drug use, imprisonment and vagrancy. For these reasons, Rivera battled for gay and trans rights as well as racial, monetary and criminal equity issues.

At first openly backing of the Gay Rights Bill, Rivera felt double-crossed when the bill — which took 17 years to turn out to be New York law in 1986 — at last barred the privileges of the transsexual network.

“They have a little reserved alcove bargain without welcoming Miss Sylvia and a portion of the different trans activists to this private cabin manage these government officials. The arrangement was, ‘You take them out, we’ll pass the bill,'” Rivera clarified at a LGBT talk in 2001.

‘Ya’ll Better Quiet Down’ Speech

These “private alcove bargains” Rivera was referring to were being driven by gay working class white men just as lesbian women’s activists who didn’t comprehend nor shared her enthusiasm for underestimated bunches inside the gay network. Incensed by their absence of consideration, Rivera conveyed her blazing “Ya’ll Better Quiet Down” discourse in New York City at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in Washington Square Park in 1973 in the midst of boos from the group:

  • I will no longer endure this poo.
  • I have been beaten.
  • I have had my nose broken.
  • I have been tossed behind bars.
  • I have lost my employment.
  • I have lost my condo.
  • For gay freedom, and all of you treat me along these lines?
  • What the f**k’s off with all of you?
  • Consider that!”

Feeling deceived by the development she had battled for such a long time and hard for, Rivera left STAR and vanished from activism for the following 20 years. She got back to battle for trans issues beginning during the 1990s in the midst of social discussions around issues like gay marriage and the LGBTQ people group serving in the military.

On the 25th commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, Rivera partook in New York City’s pride march and shared a couple of considerations.

“The development had put me on the rack, yet they brought me down and cleaned me off,” she said. “All things considered, it was excellent. I strolled down 58th Street and the youthful ones were calling from the walkway, ‘Sylvia, Sylvia, thank you, we comprehend what you did.’ After that, I backpedaled on the rack. It would be brilliant if the development dealt with its own.”


On February 19, 2002, Rivera passed on from liver disease at Saint Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in New York, NY.

She is viewed as one of the vital figures who guaranteed the “T” in LGBTQ and the main transsexual individual remembered for the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian.