Show Notes: Sylvia Rivera

Tracy Wilson

Button from the 4th Annual Christopher Street Gay Pride Day held in Greenwich Village, NYC, at which Sylvia Rivera was a scheduled speaker. --- Image by © David J. & Janice L. Frent Collection/Corbis

In articles about transgender and gay rights activist Sylvia Rivera, the same nickname comes up again and again: "the Rosa Parks of the gay rights movement." But Sylvia had far more in common with Claudette Colvin, the young woman who was considered, then rejected as a plaintiff in a court case to overturn bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama. Civil rights leaders feared that Claudette was not "respectable" enough to gain the sympathies of the white community - she was an unmarried, pregnant teenager with a reputation for getting in trouble. Consequently, it was Rosa Parks, who was a polite, soft-spoken, married churchgoer, who became a prominent face in the Civil Rights Movement after her later arrest for breaking bus segregation laws.

Similarly, Sylvia Rivera refused to toe a line of respectability when it came to advocating for civil rights for the LGBT community. Consequently, she and many other transgender activists were overlooked and pushed aside as the gay rights movement went mainstream.

Our listener mail is an ongoing roundup of career stories and tips from history majors.

Episode link: Sylvia Rivera

For more knowledge: 10 Things Doctors Have changed Their Minds About This Century

My research:

  • Gan, Jessi. "'Still at the Back of the Bus': Sylvia Rivera's Struggle." CENTRO Journal. Vol, 19, No. 1. Spring 2007.
  • Molloy, Parker Marie. "Op-ed: Happy Birthday, Sylvia Rivera, LGBT Rights Pioneer." The Advocate. 7/2/2014. http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/07/02/op-ed-remembering-our-queer-history-and-wishing-happy-birthday-sylvia-rivera
  • Retzloff, Tim. "Eliding Trans Latino/a Queer Experience in U.S. LGBT History: Jose Sarria and Sylvia Rivera Examined." CENTRO Journal. Vol. 19. No. 1. Spring 2007.
  • Rivera, Sylvia. "Leslie Fienberg Interviews Sylvia Rivera." Workers World. http://www.workers.org/ww/1998/sylvia0702.php
  • Rivera, Sylvia. "Sylvia Rivera's Talk at LGMNY, June 2001, Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, New York City." CENTRO Journal. Vol. 19, No. 1. Spring 2007.
  • Rivera, Sylvia. "The Drag Queen." In "Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights 1945-1990." Ed. Eric Marcus. HyperPerennial. 1992.
  • Scarpinato, Bebe and Rusty Gain. "Sylvia Rivera Obituary." International Foundation for Gender Education. http://www.ifge.org/news/2002/feb/SylviaRivera.html
  • Shepard, Benjamin. "History or Myth? Writing Stonewall." Lambda Book Report. August-September 2004.
  • Stryker, Susan. "Transgender History." Seal Press. 2008.
  • Wilchins, Riki. "A Woman for Her Time: In Memory of Stonewall Warrior Sylvia Rivera." Village Voice. 2/26/2002. http://www.villagevoice.com/2002-02-26/news/a-woman-for-her-time/
  • Wypijewski, Joann. "Postcards Post-Stonewall." The Nation. July 21/28, 2014.

You can listen to Stuff You Missed in History Class via iTunes and the Stuff You Missed in History Class RSS feed. Follow us on Twitter at @missedinhistory, and you can keep up with us on the official Stuff You Missed in History Class Facebook page. We're also on Tumblr and Pinterest.