Who is Storme DeLarverie?

Born on December 24, 1920, to a Black servant mother and a wealthy white father, Storme made her history as a gay rights activist and a drag king performer.

Storme’s father paid for her education. She joined the Ringling Brothers Circus, working with the jumping horses act. She began singing in clubs in her hometown of New Orleans at 15. That led her to tour throughout Europe. It is said she worked as a bodyguard to mobsters in Chicago. Later, she became the only male impersonator at the Jewel Box Revue, North America’s first racially integrated drag revue. It was her and twenty-five drag queens in the troupe. The revue regularly played at the Apollo Theater.

While in New York, legendary photographer Diane Arbus took a portrait of Storme in 1961. That photo still travels in museum exhibitions of the photographer, most recently in 2016.

A one-time law in New York required citizens to wear at least three pieces of clothing that matched the gender they were assigned at birth. Storme tried to obey this law in the city’s streets by wearing women’s clothing, but she was arrested twice because the police thought she was in drag. She was considered an influence on gender-nonconforming women’s fashions before unisex clothing.

Several years later, she worked as a bouncer for a few lesbian bars in New York, becoming known as the “guarding of lesbians in the Village.” She patrolled the streets of Greenwich Village with a concealed rifle, ensuring lesbians and street kids were safe. In addition, she was an LGBTQ activist and organized fundraisers for women and their children in domestic violence.

In June 2019, Storme was inducted on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor within the Stonewall National Monument in New York’s Stonewall Inn.

She was in a partnership with a dancer named Diana for twenty-five years until Diana died in 1970.

In Storme’s later years, she suffered from dementia and died of a heart attack on May 24, 2014.


Karma Eve

Published by: Karma Eve

Karma Eve is an author, writer, a former erotic spoken word artist, and an erotic historian that tells the stories of Black women who have broken barriers and blazed trails for Black women who stand strong in their sexual spaces today.

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