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From: (souborboleta)

Sylvia Rivera passed away this morning at approximately 5:00 AM, in the intensive care unit of St. Vincent's Hospital, Greenwish Village,
NYC. She had been ill with cancer of the liver. She was accompanied by her lover, Julia Murray, and Reverend Pat Bumgardner of the MCC-
NY, as she passed on.

Sylvia was involved in the struggle for human rights until the moment of her death. She met with the leadership of the Empire State Pride
Agenda in her hospital room just hours before her death, presenting the issues of concern to the community and negotiating for greater support from ESPA.

Arrangements are being made for a service at the MCC. For information call the church, or Transy House at 718-832-1080.

Sylvia was beloved by many people. We shall not see her likes again,



Having had the privilege of attending the initial NYSTG Coalition meetings with Sylvia, I got to see her in action.
She passionately insisted on not accepting ESPA's cash donation, because "it's hush money since they're not including us in SONDA." "We're sick of being at the back of the bus," she continued pounding her fist on the table!
I don't think I was alone in thinking that Sylvia was acting in anger and that it might be more prudent to accept the money and work with these peole.
Sylvia, you were so right! In retrospect we would be indebted to them and it would be harder to make our case, now that the bill is in the State Senate and they still won't inlude us in this so called "non-discrimination" legislation.
God Bless you, I'll never forget you and what you stood for.-RR

Metropolitan Community Church.....(212)629-7440


[This message was edited by Rose Royalle on 02-19-02 at 09:05 AM.]
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Not many people get to leave such an enormous imprint on their immediate world.
EVERY transgendered person, and every entity (like QMTV) that celebrates New York's vibrant TG/TS community, is in Sylvia Rivera's debt.

Beams to Julia and the rest of Sylvia's family and everyone at The Transy House. And Sylvia, we remember and salute you for your tireless work and fighting spirit.

As the graffiti used to read at the pier
"Live to be Legendary!"
I remember one night long long ago, I as a young gay boy walked down Christopher Street all wide-eyed and wonder filled, and who should I meet but the legendary Marsha P.Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
Giggleing like school girls with laughs like two cackleing hens..they oohed and ahhed over me and commented on my cute blonde boy ass and big package and both began to kiss all over me and love me up and down right on the street. I ran for my life, laughing all the way home. I will never forget them and the many many times I saw them over the years until Marsha left us and now Sylvia has gone to join her. "..and those streets so paved with gold with hear the glorified click of their high heels forever as they march their way into history."

RIP Sylvia and remember that you were loved.
Sylvia Rivera, 50, Figure in Birth of the Gay Liberation Movement
By David W. Dunlap

Sylvia Rivera, who helped lead the charge � in makeup and full voice � at the birth of the modern gay liberation movement, died yesterday at St. Vincent's Manhattan Hospital. She was 50 and lived in Brooklyn.

The cause was liver cancer, said the Rev. Pat Bumgardner of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, where Ms. Rivera was coordinator of the food pantry.

"I'm not missing a minute of this � it's the revolution!" Ms. Rivera shouted to her lover on the morning of June 28, 1969, when patrons of the Stonewall Inn violently rebuffed a police raid, setting a new militant tone for the gay rights movement.

Having been initiated into prostitution on 42nd Street as a boy (she was born Ray Rivera), she worried about "kids who started to hustle on the streets, as she had, at age 10 or 11 and, within a few years, were dead from a stabbing or an overdose or were locked into dead-end lives," Martin Duberman wrote in "Stonewall" (Dutton, 1993).

With Marsha P. Johnson, Ms. Rivera opened a short-lived shelter on East Second Street called STAR House, for Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.

Ms. Rivera often tangled with gay political leaders who favored a more conventional public front. When the Gay Activists Alliance eliminated transvestites from its civil rights agenda in the early 70's, she turned on the group, Dudley Clendinen and Adam Nagourney wrote in "Out for Good" (Simon & Schuster, 1999). "Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned," she warned.

But she became less of a force to be reckoned with as she slipped into drug addiction, hustling and homelessness. By the early 1990's, she was living on a pier in the West Village.

Five years ago, however, she found a home at Transy House, a private shelter for transgendered people in Park Slope, Brooklyn, patterned on STAR House. There, she met her partner, Julia Murray, who was with her yesterday at her death.

Over the years, there were reconciliations with the mainstream gay rights movement. In 1994, Ms. Rivera was given a place of honor in the march marking the 25th anniversary of Stonewall.

"The movement had put me on the shelf, but they took me down and dusted me off," she said in a 1995 interview with The New York Times. "Still, it was beautiful. I walked down 58th Street and the young ones were calling from the sidewalk, `Sylvia, Sylvia, thank you, we know what you did.' After that I went back on the shelf. It would be wonderful if the movement took care of its own. But don't worry about Sylvia."
Sylvia died in St. Vincent's hospital where, I can honestly say, she received extraordinary care and was treated with the utmost respect..

She was conscious at all times, although heavily sedated. She put up a good fight to the very end. One of the nurses said to me this morning,
"Boy, was she tough!"

According to her wishes, there will be a viewing at Redden's Funeral Home on 14th St. (btw 8th & 9th) after which she will be cremated. Her
ashes will be taken to The Stonewall for a small service outside the Bar. After that, a horse-drawn carriage to will take her remains
The waterfront where some of her ashes will be scattered.

Nothing has been finalized. I will get back to everyone with times and particulars. Please bear in mind that we need a day or two to pull everything (and ourselves) together.


If any of you wish to speak with me about Sylvia please give a call 212 206 0424.- Bob


[This message was edited by Rose Royalle on 02-20-02 at 08:52 AM.]
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As many of you know Sylvia and I first met during those nights of the Stonewall Riots. Both Sylvia and Masha P. Johnson marched with a number of
us on the fourth night from a community meeting called by the Mattachine Society at St John's Church on Waverly Place to the Alternate U at 14th St and 6th Ave for the organizing meeting of what became called (thanks to Martha Shelly) the Gay Liberation Front. From the beginning of the first political group to form after Stonewall, gender variant people of all colors were present and participated. Sylvia and Marsha P. Johnson formed a GLF cell they named Street Transvestites Action Revolution (STAR). STAR members were
the core of the GLF people who founded the first Lesbian and Gay Community Center in a loft building at 3rd and 6th Ave. Sylvia was one of the spokes people when GLF seized a building on NYU campus. Sylvia fought his whole life to make sure gender variant people were included in any agenda put forward in the name of the Gay and Lesbian community. Sylvia chained himself to a
banister during the first hearings for Intro 1, our civil rights bill that took over 20 years to finally pass the NY City Council. Although Sylvia had a lifelong fight with substance abuse , Sylvia never lost the radical vision of inclusion and equality that was GLF's goal. Thanks to the transgender movement, Sylvia was finally given the respect and love for his revolutionary life. Taking up the battle for the right of gender expression, Sylvia found balance and real love for the first time. Sylvia found a partner and a
community at the Metropolitan Community Church. As recently as September 7th Sylvia was railing the community to recognize gender variance and gender expression as a basic human right.

I have always respect the insights of Sylvia and even thought we some times saw issues differently we both recognized we were of the same tribe.

I will miss Sylvia's presence. For so many years Sylvia was the Community's conscience. Even when she was treated with disrespect, she always remembers Marsha P. Johnson's advice. "Treat them no mind, girl. Get on with the business you are here for."

Sylvia is gone, but Sylvia's legacy will always live on.

From: Melissa Sklarz
While not formally introduced to Sylvia, I'll never forget the first time Rose pointed her out at the rally across the street from Twilo. Rose's own sense of awe and appreciation registered Ms. Rivera immediately as a living saint. Her brand of righteousness was a burning flame, so bright and very, very hot indeed.

She had a radiant presence and a fierce devotion to her cause, clear as crystal from twenty paces away. You could tell the woman had seen it all, been to Heaven and Hell countless times, and was on a first name basis with Life Itself.

According to Newton's laws of thermodynamics, energy cannot go away; it only changes form. Thus, it is worth recognizing that the intense energy that once was in Sylvia Rivera will always be a divine force of nature from which to draw inspiration and courage in the ongoing fight for transgender rights.

Friday February 22nd, 7-9PM, Viewing & Wake

@Redden's Funeral Home
325 West 14th Street
(at Eighth Avenue)


Sylvia Rivera's Funeral/Memorial

Tuesday February 26th, 7PM, Funeral & Memorial

Metropolitan Community Church
446 West 36th Street
(Bet. Ninth & Tenth Avenues)

After the Church Service the Memorial will begin outside of the Stonewall Inn and proceed down to the piers.


[This message was edited by Rose Royalle on 02-20-02 at 10:17 PM.]
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Sylvia Rivera, Stonewall Riot Veteran, and life-long activist for transgender people, died during the dawn hours of February 19, 2002 at New York's St. Vincent's Hospital, of omplications from cancer of the liver. She was fifty years old.
Born July 2, 1951, her activism developed after leaving home at age 11 and finding herself in the Times Square subculture of the 1960's. The harassment of gay persons, in particular the flamboyant gender variant people such as herself, led her to become a staunch, proud, completely unrepentant, and ncompromising advocate for drag queens, transvestites, transsexuals and other gender variant people
throughout her life.
She was present and participated in the Stonewall Riots, which became the determining event in her life. She often remarked
about how what had started as just another gay bar raid by the police, took on such mythical significance for the development of the
Gay Rights Movement. She joined the Gay Activists Alliance in February of 1970, and threw herself into the effort to pass the New York City Gay Rights Bill. She was arrested on 42nd Street in
Manhattan for demanding her constitutional right to promote a political petition, the only person arrested in the petition drive.
She supported the efforts for the bill wholeheartedly, at one point literally whacking a local politician with a clipboard of petitions
at the Village Independent Democrats, which led to that person becoming the first sponsor for the bill. Later she literally scaled the walls of City Hall in a dress and spiked heels in an attempt to gain access to the closed door votes on the original bill. Her first major deception at the hands of the gay movement occurred when drag rights were specifically excluded from the bill to make it more palatable to "straight" people, and reflect the assimilist attitude of the Gay Rights movement at the time. This betrayal was a lesson she carried with her in all her future activism.
In the early days of the gay civil rights movement Rivera was repeatedly used to front possibly dangerous demonstrations, and then shunted aside by assimilationist "leaders" when the press appeared.
In the early 1970's Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson co-founded S.T.A.R., Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, an organization designed to achieve rights for her community, and provide social services to this largely ignored and stigmatized group. For a short while she and Marsha P. Johnson ran S.T.A.R. House which provided shelter for homeless young street queens. Lack of funds and problems with the certificate of occupancy for S.T.A.R. House, forced the abandonment of the venture at that time, but Rivera never lost the dream of creating a supportive and safe living space for young transgender people.
Rivera was greatly disillusioned with the desire of many early gay and lesbian activists to distance the gay movement from transvestites, drag queens, and other gender variant people, in
spite of the fact that these people were often the "shock troops" for the entire gay community. Leaving New York City, she passed the latter part of the 1970's until the early 1990's in Tarrytown, New York, pursuing her career as a food services manager with the Marriott Corporation. She remained in contact with the gay political movement, but limited her participation largely to Pride Week activities each year. During this period she often organized drag shows at clubs in the Tarrytown area.
In the early 1990's Rivera's life fell apart due to substance abuse problems, and she found
herself back in New York City, homeless on
the Christopher Street piers. She often described this period in very positive terms, pointing out that a group of homeless gay people
living on the piers were able to survive by working together and sharing the food and shelter which they could find for themselves.
Rivera was banned from the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in New York City because of her agitation at the Center on a freezing winter
evening when she demanded assistance for the homeless gay people living nearby on the piers. The ban on her participation in Center activities was lifted only in 2000.
Sylvia Rivera was a marcher in the original Christopher Street Liberation Day March in 1970, and participated proudly every year therafter in what later became the New York Heritage of Pride
Parade. In 1994 she led the so called "illegal" march up NYC's Fifth Avenue commemorating the 25th anniversary of Stonewall .
In 1997 Rivera joined the Transy House Collective in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a group of transgender people committed to the principles of S.T.A.R. House. At Transy House she helped provide financial assistance and counseling support for young transgender people in the process of gender transition until the time of her death. She was
able to resume her total commitment to political activism on behalf of transgender and homeless people during her time in this collective. She received requests for speaking engagements from
transgender and gay groups all over the world, and was particularly popular with young people, the "children" as she called them.
1999 Sylvia Rivera was an invited guest of the Italian Transgender Organization at the World Pride Celebration, where she addressed the
World Pride Rally in Rome.
Rivera intentionally took arrests for political purposes on several occasions in recent years, often as a part of community groups such as Soul Force, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, and the NYC Homeless Coalition, in addition to protests on behalf of transgender rights. She became the conscience of the GLBT community, advocating the inclusion for all within the community.
In 2000 Rivera and other trans-activists re-activated S.T.A.R. as the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries. Under her leadership
S.T.A.R. was instrumental in achieving a more inclusive approach toward transgender people by the Human Rights Organization, and in the organization of the New York State Transgender Coalition, which is presently conducting a campaign for the inclusion of trans people
in the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. Rivera and S.T.A.R. conducted the rally at the historic Intro 754 hearings on trans-inclusion in the NYC non-discrimination ordinance, where she received a standing ovation from the Councilmembers present as well as the overflowing gallery.
She organized the Amanda Milan Rally in
2001, and S.T.A.R. continued to be the focal point for political action related to Amanda's murder in front of Port Authority while taxi drivers applauded.
Sylvia Rivera's literary profile in Martin Duberman's best selling book Stonewall, as well as chapters in other books and magazines made
many people aware of her uncompromising and totally committed focus on civil rights for all people.
Rivera received lifetime achievement awards from many organizations, including the Puerto Rican Gay and Lesbian Association of New York,
the Neutral Zone Youth Organization of New York, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, AmBoyz Organization, and the MCC-NY Recognition for Lifetime Activism Starting with Stonewall, and many others.
Literally hours before her death in her hospital room at St. Vincent's, Rivera met with a delegation from the Empire State Pride Agenda to negotiate for the inclusion of trans rights in the current SONDA bill pending in the New York State Legislature.
Restricted to bed, attached to tubes and monitors, in severe pain, she was determined not to let the mainstream gays get their rights at the expense of the trans community one more time.
In recent years, Sylvia Rivera became an active member of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, at which she was the director of the food service program for people in the community, and a leader in the MCC-NY Gender People program. The support of the church was very important to the political work she was carrying out in her last years.
Sylvia Rivera is survived by her life partner and lover, Julia Murray, and the hundreds of her "children," people she helped in both a practical and spiritual way by her determination and example throughout her life.
Sylvia Rivera was an inspiration to several generations of GLBT activists around the world.
Funeral Services will be held at the

MCC-NY Church
36th Street
between 9th and 10th Avenues in Manhattan at 7:00PM on Tuesday,
February 26, 2002.

The service will be followed by a memorial in
front of the Stonewall Inn, from which her ashes will be carried in a horse drawn carriage to the Christopher Street piers, where the youth will place a wreath, near the spot where Sylvia's long-time fellow activist Marsha P. Johnson died.

There will be a viewing at the
Redden Funeral Home,
14th Street
between 8th and 9th Avenues, in Manhattan,
on the evening of Friday, February 22,
from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.

Information on arrangements are available from Transy House, 718-832-
1080, or the MCC-NY.

Bebe Scarpinato Bebe
and Rusty Moore

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Community Information re:
Viewing, Funeral and Procession for Sylvia Rivera

-- We hope you will join us in honoring and appreciating Sylvia's life and her work; and providing support to her family and friends --

In this email (2/20/02):
1. Info related to viewing, funeral and procession (thank you to Julia Murray, Bob Kohler & Rev. Pat from MCC for details)
2. Info to send contributions to help Sylvia's family offset costs
3. Copy of email sent out by ALP yesterday
1. Info related to viewing, funeral and procession
As per Sylvia's wishes, there will be a viewing at Redden's Funeral Home prior to her cremation.

Viewing: Friday Feb. 22nd, 6-9pm
@ Reddens's Funeral Home
325 West 14th Street (btw 8th & 9th)

Funeral: Tuesday Feb, 26th, 7 pm
Metropolitan Community Church
446 West 36th St., Manhattan
(Bring flowers, contributions to help offset costs, or other offerings, and yourself!)

Funeral Procession:
After the funeral, from The Stonewall (53 Christopher) to the Waterfront (or as close as we can get) (Bring flowers, Sylvia requested rainbow flags, bring yourselves. If you play a horn instrument, musicians are being requested to possibly accompany a horse and carriage that are being planned by members of Transie House.)

2. Info to send contributions to help Sylvia's family offset costs

Offerings can be provided at the funeral to help Sylvia's family offset costs of arrangements; contributions can also be sent to:

Metropolitan Community Church
(checks payable to MCC, memo: Sylvia Rivera)
@ 446 West 36th St.
NY, NY 10018

3. Copy of email sent out by ALP yesterday

Dear friends:

It is with great sorrow that we share the news that Sylvia Rivera passed away early this morning at St. Vincent's Hospital, from complications
related to the liver cancer that she had been battling. She was with family and friends at the time of her passing, and we are told that in true
Sylvia-style, she put up a good fight to the very end.

Many of you knew Sylvia personally, many of you have heard of her as a legend -- as one of the mothers of modern-day LGBTST activism in the U.S.,
and one of the Trans women who kicked off the Stonewall rebellions in June of 1969. And yet to many of us she was much more -- a sister-warrior in the spirit of other fierce women like Audre Lorde; an inspiration who understood and demanded full justice, equality and liberation for ALL peoples, no issue being too small or too big for her to lend her energy; a friend and a confidante for so many; a woman who called it like she saw it, based on principle and integrity; and of course, a sister with style, humor and love
shared with all who had the good fortune of coming into contact with her.

In the meantime, we hope that all of us will provide what support we can to Sylvia's partner Julia Murray and other members of Sylvia's very extensive family -- and that we re-dedicate ourselves to advancing the struggles that Sylvia cared about and worked on.

With care,
The Audre Lorde Project
The Audre Lorde Project:
Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit & Transgender People of Color Communities

85 So. Oxford St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Tel: 718-596-0342 * Fax: 718-596-1328

Sylvia Rivera in Life
and Death-Legendary Figure Dies at 50

Colorful Pioneer of the Stonewall Era Crusaded until the End

Had 'Finally Gotten Her Life in Good Shape' say Old Friends

By Randolfe H. Wicker/Gay Today (site)

New York, New York--Sylvia Rivera, perhaps the most famous survivor of the 1969 uprising outside New York City's Stonewall Bar, had finally gotten her life in order during the past three years.

Always an activist, she had finally achieved sobriety, developed a long term relationship with Julia Murray over the last four years and had gotten a managerial job running a food kitchen feeding the homeless. Sylvia Rivera, characteristically wearing her photo button honoring her early mentor, Marsha P. Johnson. Photo By: Randolfe H. Wicker

This was no small achievement for someone whose mother had tried to take Sylvia with her in a double suicide because she feared Sylvia (whose given name was Rey Rivera Mendoza) would "have a hard life".

At eleven, with only five years of schooling, Sylvia found herself working Times Square and 42nd St. as a transvestite child prostitute. In that environment, she would meet Marsha P. Johnson, another legendary figure, who became her mentor and role model.

During the tumultuous years following 1969, Sylvia would be an active member of GLF and GAA. However, she always considered her efforts with Marsha P. Johnson and others in establishing the first refuge for transgendered youth in East Village as the apex of her activist career.. They called their group "Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries" and their tenement headquarters " S.T.A.R. House" Sylvia Rivera's favorite garment in recent years was a black sweater with a rainbow star knitted into it.

Sylvia lived a life of activism. Wherever and whenever there was an injustice, she would join with those demonstrating about it. When some angry Blacks who were marching to protest the brutalization of Abner Louima started calling NYPD officers "faggots", Sylvia quickly reminded them that a lot of gay people were there supporting their protest. The shouts of "faggot cops" ceased..

When the memorial march commemorating Matthew Shepherd took to Fifth Avenue, the officer in charge reportedly pointed at Sylvia and instructed his underlings "to get that one" because "she is a real troublemaker"

When stopped from entering Central Park attempting to give out memorial badges emblazoned "Clone Diana: One Good Lifetime Deserves Another" the police recognized her immediately and addressed her by name, asking her to calm down so they wouldn't have to arrest her.

Sylvia believed in the cloning of organs, kidneys and livers, but participated in the first demonstration in support of human cloning mainly out of a sense of comradeship and solidarity with me. Sylvia had serious reservations about (and even opposed) reproductive cloning because she believed it would be something available only to the wealthy.

During the 2000 Millennium Celebration in Rome, Italy, Sylvia Rivera and Julia Murray were treated like royalty. Housed in a castle, Sylvia was given tribute as the founder of the World's Struggle for Transgendered Rights.

She continued high profile activism literally on her deathbed at St. Vincent's Hospital. Hours before she died, Matt Forman (who previously worked for the Empire State Pride Agenda) visited the St. Vincent's Hospital and heard her plea for inclusion of transgendered people in proposed legislation currently being considered by New York State legislators.

On February 7th, Sylvia Rivera, obviously in frail health, had spoken at a rally held outside that group's offices protesting the exclusion of transgendered people from the proposed civil rights legislation. "Sylvia looked like she really shouldn't have been there," one activist commented after the well-attended event ended.

It was obvious to those around her that Sylvia's time was running out. In the final weeks, with jaundiced skin, unable to sleep for days on end because of the pain caused by the cancerous tumor in her liver, Sylvia continued to supervise the food distribution to the homeless and the HIV clients at the Metropolitan Community Church's food pantry on West 36th Street in Manhattan.

The Subways had become too difficult. She continued to show up for work even though the cab fares to and from "Transy House" in Brooklyn consumed much of her pay. She had lived for several years in a house owned by a transgendered couple that shared their home with other transgendered people.

Sylvia Rivera died shortly after five in the morning on February 19,2002. At her bedside were her life mate Julia Murray and Rev. Pat Bumgartner of the Metropolitan Community Church.

The physician attending Sylvia Rivera in her last hours reportedly cried and described her as "one tough cookie" and "a real fighter".

Realizing the end was near, Sylvia Rivera put her affairs in order. She also confided that she would like to have a burial like the one portrayed in Imitation of Life with the urn with her ashes displayed on a horse drawn carriage and accompanied by a brass band. Related Stories from the GayToday Archive: Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries Demand Justice

The fight to get a permit for a horse drawn carriage in Manhattan from the newly elected Republican Mayor, the problem of getting access to the Hudson River waterfront so Sylvia Rivera's ashes could be scattered near where she once lived in a gay homeless encampment and/or near the foot of Christopher Street (technically an illegal act) where she had helped scatter the ashes of her dear friend and Patron Saint, Marsha P. Johnson, was a legendary activist's final challenge left to her legions of admirers and friends.


Much has been written on Sylvia�s incredible history and her pivotal role in the 1969 Stonewall Riots which gave birth to the queer civil rights movement, but I also remember her many recent contributions to the transgender community and civil rights movement. I will not speak about my personal relationship with Sylvia during the past 6 years, but rather our work together organizing ten Transgender emonstrations and events during the past 2 years. l loved and admired Sylvia as an activist and grande diva, and I miss her deeply. Below are my recollections of her life and passionate work.

In the post-stonewall seventies, Sylvia Rivera founded STAR House, a squat to offer shelter to homeless trans youth. Sylvia and Marsha P.
Johnson obtained food and clothing so that dozens of trans kids did not have to sell their bodies to survive. After a decade of activism in
the seventies, Sylvia saw most of her friends die in the eighties from the AIDS epidemic. Moved by the Stonewall 25 celebrations in 1994 and
the murder of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera became heavily involved with the TG civil rights movement once more, resuming her role as one of
the community�s most beloved leaders and matriarch.

She fought for trans civil rights literally until the day she died, negotiating her demands with the current and former executive directors
of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), just hours before her passing. Her last public speaking appearance was on Feb. 7, just two weeks before her death, at a demonstration (which she helped organize from her hospital bed) outside of ESPA�s headquarters to protest gender exclusion
from SONDA.

Miss Sylvia was employed this past year as head of the Food Pantry at the Metropolitan Community Church handing out lunches and groceries to
hundreds of homeless and PWA�s each week. Previous to her employment at MCC, Sylvia was a well known fixture at Uplift Lighting, Randy
Wicker�s famed West Village lighting store. Last year, Sylvia and her
resurrected organization, STAR, acted as primary leader in the struggle for transgendered civil rights, and as a surrogate mother to hundreds
of queer youth over the years who called her "Ma".

During Spring of 2001, Sylvia and STAR helped to organize the vigil to remember murdered queer youth in Sherridan Square, as well as the TWILO
demonstration protesting 2 fired transsexuals. STAR also launched a national campaign against the Human Rights Campaign in D.C., resulting
in the HRC changing its mission statement to contain "transgender".

At the May 4 city council public hearing and press conference for city wide civil rights, Sylvia Rivera offered a typically charismatic speech and compelling testimony from her 40 years of experience as an out trans person in New York City. As she started to speak at the hearing,
hundreds gave her a standing ovation by the led by City Council Member Margarita Lopez. Sylvia also organized the post hearing Civil Rights
Rally where her fiery spirit further inspired the crowd.

This past summer, she organized a press conference and demo outside of the courthouse for the arraignment of Amanda Milan�s accused killers.
She also began the Trans Family Community Dinner at the Metropolitan Community Church held each month. She helped to raise funds to release wrongly imprisoned Patra Smith in New Orleans, and organized a vigil and march for Amanda Milan through the village. She also co-facilitated Gender People, a weekly TG spirituality group.

In August 2001, Miss Sylvia Rivera brought over 40 organizations and individuals together to form the NY TG Coalition, a statewide coalition
for all concerned with TG civil rights in NY state. During the final months of her life, Sylvia Rivera was actively working with the
Coalition on its public awareness campaign for SONDA, the statewide gay civil rights bill which excludes protections for gender variant New
Yorkers. She helped organize the Remembering Our Dead vigil this past November at Washington Square Park and a fundraiser for Transy House
this last December.

In the year 2000, Ms. Rivera was the guest of honor and U.S. representative for the first World Pride in Rome Italy, where she and her partner Julia were flown to speak. She helped to organize the Amanda Milan memorial and the first transgender political march in New York. She spoke at the Gender Identity Project�s T Town Two and resurrected her organization, STAR (now Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries). She also led a march for those arrested at the
Matthew Shephard riot and organized a protest against Jim Fouratt at the June Pride Rally, and was arrested for disobedience in Washington D.C.
with Soul Force.

In 1999, Ms. Rivera was an organizer and one of the first arrested in the Matthew Shephard public funeral in New York City. She gave numerous
interviews and speeches every June for Gay Pride where she traditionally led the march in the Stonewall Veterans car. She was a regular
volunteer for Brooklyn Pride, and led the parades in Queens and the Bronx each year as well.

In 1998, Ms. Rivera helped to organize the Village Voice demonstration with the Metro Gender Network. She was known for accepting arrests
for civil disobedience with such groups as Act Up, Fed Up Queers, Queer Nation, and ILGO. She was the only person arrested for petitioning
signatures for the gay civil rights bill in 1971, a bill which would later exclude her without gender protection.

Her most famous act of civil disobedience, aside from Stonewall, was when she scaled the City Hall building to a second floor window in a mini skirt and heels before a hearing on the city gay civil rights bill in the late 1970�s. Sylvia regularly helped homeless and underage trans people with referrals, food, clothing and shelter. At the time of her death, she was working on the SONDA campaign and a project for a transgender shelter, a life long dream.

Sylvia he continued to be active member of in Gender People, STAR, Positive Health Project, Stonewall Veterans, and many other groups up
until her passing on Tuesday. She was known for her passion, energy, loud voice, determined attitude, sharp tongue and fiery speeches.
After 32 years of political activism, Sylvia Rivera died without ever knowing civil rights protections on a city or statewide level. Her loss will be felt at queer community centers around the globe.

Sylvia Rivera was born Ray Mendoza on July 2, 1951 in the Bronx. She survived a murder-suicide attempt by her pregnant mother when she was 3
years old, her mother did not. She was suspended from the 4th grade for wearing make up and dropped at of school by the 6th grade. She was
raised by her maternal grandmother until being put out at age 11, beginning a long life of survival on the city�s streets of the city, and
a long struggle with alcohol and drug addiction.

Sylvia is survived by her partner Julia Murray, her gay daughters Rusty Moore, Chelsea Goodwin, Marina Brown, and many others, also gay
grand-daughters Erica Ramdass, Melissa Hart, Jamie Hunter, Marilyn Cambareri, and Josephine Perez, to name only a few. Others she
considered her family included Bob Kohler, Michaelangelo, Les LaRue, Kristiana Thom'sleah, and many, many others.

At age 18 on a hot June night in 1969, Sylvia Rivera went to the Stonewall Inn "for a few cocktails" and changed the world. She
dedicated the next 3 decades of her life to helping the poor and to political activism, and demonstrated what a difference a single person
can make to the lives of so many. Her loss will be felt among friends and civil rights activists around the world.

Rivera, was known for her brashness and compassion.


The street can breed a mean streak, and it can take you down.

For Sylvia Rivera, it did neither. Sure, folks who knew her over the years say she could be tough, to put it mildly. She was, after all, orphaned at the age of 3 and hustling on Gotham�s unrelenting streets by her early teens. She was, for so many years, one tenacious street queen; appropriately, she was among the fed-up queers rebelling at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

But for Rivera the rebelling didn�t stop there. Despite a longtime relationship with booze and drugs, and occasional bouts of homelessness, Rivera consistently spoke up for those lingering on society�s fringes. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, that voice was silenced when Rivera died of complications from liver cancer, said Rev. Pat Bumgardner of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, where Rivera, 50, was coordinator of the food pantry. Bumgardner and Rivera�s partner, Julia Murray, were with Rivera when she died at Saint Vincent�s Hospital in Manhattan.

"The last hour and a half of her life she just struggled so hard to live. She moved constantly in the bed, on the floor, in the chair. Up and down. She never gave up. Her spirit never gave up, and she was amazingly conscious through the entire dying process. I don�t think in all of my years I�ve ever seen somebody go out with that level of consciousness," said Bumgardner. "That was Sylvia -- eyes wide open."

A rebellious and caring heart

Rivera, born in the Bronx as Ray Rivera, understood firsthand the perils of hustling on the streets. Still practically a youngster herself, Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson opened a shelter on the Lower East Side called STAR House, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, to help kids on the street beat the odds of getting killed or dying of a drug overdose.

"She worked the streets to support herself, and worked the streets so other homeless kids wouldn�t have to," said Bumgardner. "She�d take them in and feed them and house them, and work herself, so they wouldn�t have to.

"I don�t say this lightly," she added, "and I don�t want it to be misused, but she had that Mother Teresa quality, and I don�t mean to make her this nice warm person, because Sylvia was definitely a product of the streets. She never lost that street edge, or street sense -- in some way I think that�s part of her strength -- but she had this amazing capacity to be in the life with people. Not just have compassion, but to be there with them. I think if you can do that, then a kid working the streets becomes you working the streets, and you want to save them from that."

Feeling �sold out�

While the shelter�s existence was short-lived, Rivera�s commitment to gay and trans people was steadfast throughout her life.

She participated in the original Christopher Street Liberation Day March in 1970, and joined in every New York City pride since. In the early 1970s, she was involved with the Gay Activists Alliance, which was working toward passage of a gay civil rights bill in New York City.

So supportive was Rivera of that effort that she reportedly scaled the walls of City Hall in a dress and spiked heels in an attempt to gain access to a closed door vote on the original bill.

But Rivera�s enthusiasm turned to anger when some gay activists supported the exclusion of trans people in order to make the measure more palatable to politicos and the public.

(Gay New Yorkers obtained citywide protections more than a decade later, while transgendered and gender-variant New Yorkers are still struggling for those same rights.)

Rivera was also booted off the stage at a gay political rally in the early 1970s because some gay and lesbian activists deemed drag queens unacceptable.

"Sylvia demanded to speak, and she fought her way to the podium and there was a scuffle," recounted longtime activist Bob Kohler, a close friend of Rivera for more than three decades, "and there was a picture of Sylvia that was circulating and she was sitting at the podium, and she had blood on her face and she was crying. And that was the only time I�ve seen her cry."

According to Kohler, Rivera felt abandoned by the community, and she often expressed her belief that trans folks had been left in the back of the bus by their gay counterparts.

"It was a painful realization," Kohler said.

Rivera then moved to Westchester and for several years worked as a food service technician for the Marriott Corporation.

In the early 1990s, she was back in Gotham, sans employment and shelter, and living on a West Village pier. Five years ago she moved into Transy House, the informal name for a group of transsexual and transgendered friends living together in Brooklyn. She found a deep love with Julia Murray, also of Transy House, kicked her substance abuse habit, and was back into queer activism full throttle.

Rivera got active in a variety of queer groups, including the Metropolitan Gender Network, MCC, and her renamed and reinvigorated Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries. One of STAR�s first ventures was to organize a vigil for Amanda Milan, an African-American transgendered woman stabbed to death near the Port Authority last year.

"The thing that Sylvia had that was unique is that she came from the streets. She had that experience of not being middle class. Another thing was that she was Hispanic, so she could easily relate with people of color. And thirdly, Sylvia was not just a leader in the trans community. She was known throughout the GLBT community," said Rusty Moore, who started Transy House, which was fashioned after STAR House. "She was also direct and honest. A lot of activists don�t have that direct honesty that Sylvia had."

Last year, Rivera was at City Hall adamantly calling for passage of a city trans rights bill. And earlier this month she orchestrated a picket in front of the Village headquarters of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay rights group, to protest the exclusion of trans protections in a statewide gay rights bill promoted by ESPA.

Several hours before she died, ESPA leadership met with Rivera in her hospital room.

"We had a productive discussion about how the Pride Agenda and various leaders of the transgender community could improve cooperation and communication," said ESPA Executive Director Joseph Grabarz, adding, "Sylvia had very strong beliefs and never hesitated to make them known. While we may not have always agreed with her, we certainly respected her."

Many honors

Rivera received lifetime achievement awards from many organizations, including the Puerto Rican Gay & Lesbian Association of New York, the Neutral Zone Youth Organization of New York, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, AmBoyz Organization, and the MCC-NY Recognition for Lifetime Activism Starting with Stonewall.

Three years ago, Rivera was an invited guest of the Italian Transgender Organization at the World Pride Celebration, where she addressed the World Pride Rally in Rome.

"Even in the queer community at large that had called her forth, she never really lost that sense of connection to the street and the people who live the hard life on the street," said Bumgardner. "For me, that was one of the most important things about her. She never forgot who she was or where she came from. She was a person of conviction."

Added the 75-year-old Kohler: "I�m alone know. I always had Sylvia. We were always out there together. It�s almost as if I�ve lost an arm -- but now I�ll be fighting for the two of us."

There will be a viewing at the Redden Funeral Home, 325 14th St. between 8th and 9th avenues in Manhattan, on Friday, Feb. 22, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Funeral services for Rivera will be held at the Metropolitan Community Church, 36th Street between 9th and 10th avenues in Manhattan, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

The service will be followed by a memorial in front of the Stonewall Inn, from which Rivera�s ashes will be carried in a horse-drawn carriage to the Christopher Street piers.

INGA SORENSEN, NYBlade, February 22

She may have been the prototypical Angry Queen. Unbowed, unbought, and virtually indigestible by a gay movement she helped birth, Stonewall warrior Sylvia Rivera died on February 19 of end-stage liver disease aggravated by too many years on alcohol and city streets.

Sylvia (n� Ray) was one of those outcast femmy boys and butchy girls she worried so much about, who worked the streets and too often ended up floating under the Christopher Street piers, overdosed on drugs or beaten half to death by fag bashers, strung-out tricks, lovers, or cops.

When genderqueers rioted at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, it wasn't because the last jitney had just left for Fire Island. They took on the cops because their sanctuary had been invaded once too often, and, unwelcome at the city's tonier gay bars, they had few other places to call their own. Sylvia immediately understood the significance of their rebellion. She called Stonewall "the turning point," and she threw one of the first bottles at the cops.

A year later, Sylvia joined the new Gay Activists Alliance and began working furiously to pass a gay rights bill in New York City. She was even arrested for climbing the walls of City Hall in a dress and high heels to crash a closed-door meeting on the bill.

Yet, despite her heroic efforts, within a few years GAA had eliminated drag and transvestite (as they were then called) concerns from its civil rights agenda. Drag rights were also dropped from the proposed city gay rights bill to make it more acceptable. "When things started getting more mainstream," Sylvia told Michael Musto in a 1995 interview, "it was like, 'We don't need you no more.' " Her response was to do what she did best: fight back. "Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned," Sylvia warned.

With Marsha P. Johnson (the P stood for Pay It No Mind), she founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR, a radical group that did everything from marching to setting up crash pads as an alternative to the streets. Though Sylvia was herself frequently homeless, she spent the end of her life at Transy House, a direct descendant of the original STAR shelter. She lived to see the '90s protest group Transsexual Menace and, later on, the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA). In many ways, Sylvia was the Rosa Parks of the modern transgender movement, a term that was not even coined until two decades after Stonewall.

The earlier expulsion of transvestites by GAA was a harbinger of things to come. In 2002, butches, queens, fairies, high femmes, drag people, tomboys, and sissies have all but vanished from official gay discourse. They are rarely mentioned in the public pronouncements of major gay organizations. Federal gay rights legislation pending in Congress doesn't mention gender expression or identity, nor does the gay rights bill pending in Albany. In effect, gender has become the new "gay," the thing you don't talk about in polite or political company.

Although most gay groups have added "and gender identity" to their mission statements, in practice the application of this phrase is strictly confined to the rights of transsexual and transgender people. Yet a recent GenderPAC survey found that about a third of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who experienced workplace discrimination reported that their problems were due to the perception that they transgressed gender norms. It seems unlikely that sexual orientation laws alone will protect such people, let alone heterosexuals or transgender employees who don't fit someone's ideal of "real" men or women.

When it comes to homosexuality, most gay organizations are determined to project an image of normalcy in which all gay men are Will Truman and all lesbians Ellen DeGeneres. Acknowledging anything less would be admitting that some gays and lesbians are people like . . . well, like Sylvia Rivera.

As they were 30 years ago, gender stereotypes are still the elephant in the living room, the political issue no one wants to tackle. So we have lesbians like 34-year old Dawn Dawson, who was fired from an upscale Manhattan hair salon allegedly for looking too butch; Fred Martinez Jr., a gay and transgender Navajo teen who was beaten to death in Cortez, Colorado; and Willie Houston, a 38-year old African American Metro bus driver in Nashville. Willie wasn't gay or trans or anything else except a frequent driver for the elderly and disabled. But a man became enraged at seeing him with a blind male friend on one arm and holding his girlfriend's purse on the other, and shot him dead on the night of his engagement.

Then there's the emerging issue of gender-based school bullying. Five of eight major school shootings involved assailants who reportedly had been taunted with sexual epithets. According to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), words like faggot and gay are often used interchangeably to demean boys by bullies who don't necessarily associate these epithets with sexual orientation. 'Sissy" boys and "tomboy" girls�whether they are gay, straight, or just genderqueer�are prime targets for abuse during those years when fitting in is the most important thing in an adolescent's life. Teenagers engage in gender profiling as if they were trained by the New Jersey State Highway Patrol. So it seems unlikely that we will prevent school bullying until we start addressing gender stereotyping.

Finding food, shelter, a safe bed, and even some recognition for genderqueer kids was a lifelong passion for Sylvia. She saw them as society's most vulnerable outcasts. She picketed and protested, caucused and cajoled, and if the occasion called for it, which it often did, she submitted to arrest.

Sylvia Rivera went out as she lived: struggling to get gender issues on the map. She was hooked up to monitors, IVs, and a morphine pump last Sunday when local gay leaders stopped by the intensive care unit to ask her advice. Mortally ill, she held back the night long enough to give them hell one last time for not being inclusive enough. She died only hours later, at just 50 years old: a unique lady for a unique time.

Riki Wilchins/Village Voice/Week of February 27 - March 5, 2002

Riki Wilchins is executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC).

Sylvia had been helping me do research (I'm a Ph. D. history student) on the life of Marsha P. Johnson in order to write about Marsha's life and the creation of STAR house. I would very much like to interview anyone who knew Marsha or especially who might have some firsthand knowledge of Marsha's and Sylvia's activities in the 1960s and 1970s. Please contact me at Thanks, John
Tell Stories about Sylvia.
Hear Stories about Sylvia.
Remember Sylvia.

Sylvia Rivera Community Memorial Event

**Thursday, April 25th 2002**
@ Judson Memorial Church: 55 Washington Square South

Storytelling. Film Screening. Music & Singing. Performances.
Cheers by the Radical Cheerleaders. Open Mic.

Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002): Transgender Warrior. Stonewall Veteran. Fierce Activist. Relentless Critic of the White Gay Male Establishment. Outspoken Puerto Rican Transwoman. Radical Queer. Social Justice Advocate. Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) Founder. Mother of the U.S. LGBT movement. Defender of the Chelsea Piers. Leader of the Fight for Transgender Inclusion in SONDA, the NY State Employment Non-Discrimination Bill for Sexual Orientation. Revolutionary. Lifelong Advocate for a Better World of All of Us.

"I'm tired of sitting on the back of the bumper. It's not even the back of the bus. It's the back of the bumper. The bitch on wheels is back."

-Sylvia Rivera

For more information, call 646-221-8970 or email
From Martinnyc:

Sylvia had been helping me do research (I'm a Ph. D. history student) on the life of Marsha P. Johnson in order to write about Marsha's life and the creation of STAR house. I would very much like to interview anyone who knew Marsha or especially who might have some firsthand knowledge of Marsha's and Sylvia's activities in the 1960s and 1970s. Please contact me at Thanks, John
Planning a memorial/speak out for Sylvia

Hi everyone-
I am new to this list, i live in boston and want to plan a memorial/speak out for sylvia to bring younger and older trans/queer activists together. i was hoping to play videos she has been in, recorded interviews, and have speakers who either knew her or have been inspired by her. i was hoping to talk with more people who knew her and maybe get some advice on the best way to plan such an event. I would love all the help i can get! I was hoping to find friends of sylvia in boston or anyone that would be willing to come from NY as well. Thanks so much for your help and for the amazing posts i have read! you can write me back here or at

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