Sylvia Rivera: “…don’t even like the label transgender.”

“Sylvia Rivera, the woman who faced child abuse, pushed to the doors of a child prostitute and threw out of The Gay Rights Movement

In her later days, Sylvia Rivera (b. 2 Jul 1951 — d. 19 Feb 2002) called herself half-sister. Her essay she kept herself an optional human who admit that she is neither transgender, nor she was a lesbian. Sylvia wrote in her essay, “Transvestites: Your Half Sisters and Half Brothers of the Revolution” one who dresses in clothes of opposite sex. Here statement does not show any evidence that she was a transgender or lesbian.

I left home at age 10 in 1961. I hustled on 42nd Street. The early 60s was not a good time for drag queens, effeminate boys or boys that wore makeup like we did. Back then we were beat up by the police, by everybody. I didn't really come out as a drag queen until the late 60s when drag queens were arrested, what degradation there was. I remember the first time I got arrested, I wasn't even in full drag. I was walking down the street and the cops just snatched me. People now want to call me a lesbian because I'm with Julia, and I say, “No. I'm just me. I'm not a lesbian.” I'm tired of being labelled. I don't even like the label transgender. I'm tired of living with labels. I just want to be who I am. I am Sylvia Rivera. Ray Rivera left home at the age of 10 to become Sylvia. And that's who I am.”

Marsha and I fought for the liberation of our people.

In a 1981 interview

Her childhood was almost too sad to live like an ordinary girl. Sylvia in her young age soon learned how suicidal mothers behave and why a broken relationship had that ugly end. Her mother committed suicide when she was just three (her father already had left both mother and daughter so early). Thus, the abandoned girl started living on the streets, worked as a sex-worker and met a group of drag queens. The Sylvia name was her welcoming (token) name Marsha had given and Rivera became another drag queen.

Also, The Stonewall Riots protests was occurred in 1960, she claimed that she was the part of it, but Johnson said loud and clear that Sylvia was not the part of the riots. Rivera was a kind of exaggerated her presence at every protest. She was co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front and STAR.
Moreover, her never-ending feelings of poor, orphan, stamp of sex-worker, and living on blood of all time drugs remained till the end of her life. The riots, thousands of Transgender and Gay came out on the streets for the rights of liberty, however, she disliked being herself tagged for the same. Rivera died sudden due to liver cancer.

Sylvia Rivera once pushed out of the “Gay Rights Movements” is now well recognized figure

However, the legacy of Sylvia has registered through many incidents, one of them was on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall Riots, a large painted mural depicting Marsha P Johnson and Silvia Rivera in Dallas in 2019. Also, on the Christopher corner, was renamed to Sylvia Rivera Way on Huston Streets.

Read, Barbara Gittings on “How I Discovered The Power Of The Press.” and Marsha P Johnson's poetry, “The Soul

Barbara Gittings: “I discovered the power of the press.”

Barbara Gittings
Barbara Gittings life
Barbara Gittings

Barbara Gittings (b. 31 July 1932 to d. 18 Feb 2007) was the mother of gay men and lesbian of the late 50s and founder of “Daughters of Bilitis” it was the first lesbian rights organization. Miss Barbara being the first editor of the publication, The Ladder (Magazine of Lesbian she studied deeply what is the definition of Uranian).

I wore drag because I thought that was a way to show I was gay. It’s changed now, but in the early 50s, there were basically two types of women in the gay bars: the so-called butch ones in short hair and plain masculine attire and the so-called femme one's in dresses and high heels and makeup. I knew high heels and makeups weren’t my personal style, so I thought… I must be the other kind!

Barbara Gittings

ㅡ David Carter, author of “Stonewall”,

She was one of the rare people in the homophile movement before Stonewall who took a million stance.

The stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community. Barbara had also helped the American Psychiatric Association with an understanding of people of homosexuality.

I had to find bits and pieces under headings like “Sexual perversion and “Sexual abbreviation” in books on abnormal psychology. Miss Gittings told the publication in 1999.

Barbara Gittings

She took ownership of ending the discrimination against guy men and lesbians. But how young Barbara had evoked her interest in exploring homosexuality? Her father who spit out the truth about it. At an early age, she had read a book called, “The Well of Loneliness” in 1928 a novel of lesbian love by the English writer Radclyffe Hall. It was the beginning of her journey exploring the various studies of sex and discrimination against being a homophile.

I kept thinking about it, it’s me they are writing about, but it does not feel like me at all.

Barbara Gittings
Barbara Gittings doing protest

Her contribution was remarkable, Gay marriage, openness, and their visibility in the society had never been easy in the late 50s and 60s. Barbara had taken the change, step ahead, and become the mother of thousands of guy men and lesbians community. She fought hard for their rights and quality.

Everybody knew that the battle of ending the intolerance against Uranian was quite difficult, but she stood against it till the end of distinction against LGBTQ (LGBT is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB, which was used to replace the term gay regarding the LGBT community beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s), read more about it here.
Studying deep, Ms Gittings referred to many psychological books and psychologists, a purposeful woman did at whatever she could go to the extent for what she wanted to get for her fellow gay and lesbians friends.

My mission was not to get a general education, but to find out about me and what my life would be like. So, I stopped going to classes and started going to the library. There were no organizations to turn to in those days, only libraries were safe, although the information contained was dismal.

Barbara Gittings

During Gay Pioneer, (July 4, 1965, almost 40 gay and lesbian turned up in front of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell people from New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia) Barbara said,

We are the first to do this in an organized fashion to stand up for ourselves. We were considered weird and sick, perverted, and just being wrong.
Most of the citizens of this country have been brainwashed into thinking that we were that way. First that we are not perverted, we are not sick, we are not weird. We are right and the whole world is wrong. We have a dress code, and we have conduct of code. We are out facing the public for the first time.

Vito Russo interviews Harry Hay and Barbara Gittings