Sylvia Rivera

The Cardinal celebrates Hispanic Heritage and LGBTQ+ History Months!


Eric Sanchez, Senior Editor

Sylvia Rivera was a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall uprising. She was a tireless advocate for all those who were put aside as the “gay rights” movement has mainstreamed.  Rivera was a Puerto Rican American transgender activists. She was born on July 2,1951, raised in New York City. Her birth father abandoned her and she became an orphan and lived with her grandmother. Due to her behavior, she began to live on the streets in 1961 and worked as a child prostitute.

At the age of 18 years old, she fought for the rights of gay people and the inclusion of drag queens. In 1970, she co founded the militant group and youth shelter STAR ( Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) with African American trans activists Marsha P.Johnson. She provided vulnerable and homeless trans teenagers, gay youths, with food and clothing. In 1973, Rivera participated in the Gay Pride Parade but was not allowed to speak, she grabbed the microphone anyways and stated “If it wasn’t for the drag queen, there would be no gay liberation movement.” She expanded the LGBT+ community and was given a place of honor in the 25th anniversary Stonewall in March in 1994. Young ones on the sidewalk commented on her and thanked her for everything she has done. After her death on February 19, 2002, her legacy continued and expanded the LGBT community.