Worker’s World Interview of Sylvia Rivera: ‘I’m glad I was in the Stonewall riot’
June 12, 2015 Comments Off on Worker’s World Interview of Sylvia Rivera: ‘I’m glad I was in the Stonewall riot’
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.
We always felt that the police were the real enemy. We expected nothing better than to be treated like we were animals-and we were.
We were stuck in a bullpen like a bunch of freaks. We were disrespected. A lot of us were beaten up and raped.
When I ended up going to jail, to do 90 days, they tried to rape me. I very nicely bit the shit out of a man.
I’ve been through it all.
In 1969, the night of the Stonewall riot, was a very hot, muggy night. We were in the Stonewall [bar] and the lights came on. We all stopped dancing. The police came in.
They had gotten their payoff earlier in the week. But Inspector Pine came in-him and his morals squad-to spend more of the government’s money.
We were led out of the bar and they cattled us all up against the police vans. The cops pushed us up against the grates and the fences. People started throwing pennies, nickels, and quarters at the cops.
And then the bottles started. And then we finally had the morals squad barricaded in the Stonewall building, because they were actually afraid of us at that time. They didn’t know we were going to react that way…
Read the whole interview here.
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