My OBT

What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

Stormé Weather

21 Comments

storme 5This weekend, the world lost the luminous gay rights pioneer, my friend Stormé DeLarverie.

Born in New Orleans in 1920 to a white father and a black mother, she was no stranger to trouble, but she always kept her head held high and her sense of humor intact.

 “When you grew up like me, honey, you better be able to see all the way around you, because when the black kids weren’t chasing me, the white kids were chasing me, and if they weren’t, the dogs were chasing me, or the snakes were chasing me. Somebody was always chasing me – until I stopped running.” 

storme 2

 

One of America’s most infamous drag kings, in the thirties and forties, Stormé was the M.C. of the Jewel Box Revue, the country’s first racially-mixed travelling drag show. You read that right. The Revue’s tagline was “25 Men and 1 Woman!” I wish I could remember some of the stories she told me about that time; as you can imagine, they were pretty hair raising, but they didn’t phase Stormé.

Perhaps best known for being the first Stonewall veteran to throw a punch, she spent her whole life tirelessly and unapologetically fighting for gay rights. There was even a movie made about her in 1991.

I got to know her when she was working as a bouncer for Henrietta Hudson’s and Rubyfruit, two women’s bars in Greenwich Village. I can still hear her singing “Stormé Weather” whenever the weather was fierce. In addition to being charming, she was also the most effective bouncer any bar could hope for. Except in extreme cases, after she bounced someone, you’d find her outside with her arm around the offender, comforting them and giving advice. She could find something in common with anybody she talked to, and it was really rare (in those days, at least) that anyone was rude to her. Stormé was an impossible woman not to like. She had no problem being tough when toughness was called for, but she was the sweetest gun-toting (then) octogenarian I’ve ever met.

Image

Photo by Sam Bassett

“Age ain’t nothing but a number — if you don’t mind it, it don’t matter.” 

A few years ago, I heard that she was suffering from dementia and had been put in a nursing home. I thought about finding out where she was and visiting, but our association was so insignificant (to her, at least), I thought it would just be weird. It never occurred to me that because she had no family left, she’d be alone.

Dear, sweet, talented, generous, funny Stormé, I hope you are at peace now. Thank you for everything you did for all of us. We won’t ever forget you.

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

21 thoughts on “Stormé Weather

  1. This is a lovely piece.

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  3. I didn’t know anything about her but now I’m adding her to my list of heroes.

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  4. I read alot about her, and did a blog about her just after she died…sad that I never got to meet this hero. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

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  5. Great Piece.. Lovely photos

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  6. Loved reading this personal history. She sounds like she was an amazing person.

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  7. nice memory and well written – thank you. eve

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  12. I had never heard of her but I am instantly adding her to my list of heroes. What an incredible person to have been a pioneer and advocate and champion in so many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow. Fantastic story. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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