This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

02 July 2020

July

I am taking the month off.   I will be back in August.

23 June 2020

Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

The post-Stonewall activist organizations:

While QLF and STAR were run by trans women, trans women also played significant roles in GLF and GAA. 

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)
StreetTransvestite Action Revolutionaries. (also Part III of Sylvia Rivera)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - New York
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

See also The Five Years Following Stonewall - A New York Timeline

GLF London was founded in the basement of the London School of Economics in October 1970 inspired by what Bob Mellors had seen happen in New York. All-London meetings were held at All Saints Hall in Powis Square, Notting Hill. The newspaper put out was Come Together, named for a song on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album.

At first there was no drag, but slowly a significant minority started wearing frocks for the dances. This extended to street theatre, notably the Miss Trial demo outside the Old Bailey in support of the women who were on trial for disrupting the Miss World contest.  Then GLF disrupted the 1971 Christian Festival of Light. Some GLF queens wore drag because it felt right, some for fun and some for political reasons. Some were living in communal squats and in poverty in Brixton and in Notting Hill, and wore drag all day every day – and became known as Radical Feminists.

They aligned themselves with lesbians against the masculine gay men who were dominating the GLF meetings. When the women finally split from GLF in February 1972, the Rad Fems began to dominate at the All-London meetings, which was a bit intimidating for newcomers. However the RadFems also demonstrated against the launch of the feminist magazine Spare Rib, which allowed The Sunday Times to run an article on the irony of feminist men telling women how they should behave. The fledgling Gay News used this to disassociate from what they referred to as 'fascists in frocks'. The initial issues of Gay News were hostile to GLF in general and even more so to the queens.

Separate from the RadFems and political drag was the GLF Transvestite, Transsexual and Drag Queen Group which started meeting in late 1971 run by Rachel Pollack and Roz Kaveney which formed a trans presence at the GLF meetings. They collectively wrote a manifesto which was published in Come Together, 11, the Lesbian Issue.

Separately from that, Bob Mellors befriended the eccentric trans woman Charlotte Bach, who wasn’t a member, and Bobbie MacKenzie, who was.

The official first gay pride march in London was the Carnival Parade on 1 July 1972. However a few days earlier, GLF had been allocated a time-slot with the Boilermakers Union to picket the US Embassy about what they were doing to Vietnam. Only the Radfems turned up, a band was playing, and a few started a waltz. The US school band packed up in a fit of pique. The queens sauntered off and ended up at Piccadilly Circus. The police asked where they, the queens and the rent boys, intended to go, and said they would escort the march which went via Oxford Street to Hyde Park.

As the all-London meetings declined, they were replaced by separate GLFs in different parts of London. Some of these put on dances which became welcoming places for those who wished to explore their gender expression.

By late 1973 the all-London meetings were almost over. Some of the surviving RadFems took over the anarchist Agitprop bookshop/commune at 248 Bethnal Green Road which they renamed Bethnal Rouge. In 1974 two buildings in Railton Road, Brixton were squatted and became the South London Gay Community Centre.


  • Jeffrey Weeks. “The Gay Liberation front, 1970-72” in Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain, from the Nineteenth Century to the Present. Quartet Books, 1977.
  • Aubrey Walter (ed). Come Together: The Years of Gay Liberation, 1970-73. London: Gay Men's Press, 1980.
  • Bob Mellors. We Are All Androgynous Yellow. Another-Orbit Press, 1980.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. London: Gay Men's Press 1984: 95-107. Review.
  • Lisa Power. No Bath but Plenty of Bubbles: An Oral History of the Gay Liberation Front 1970-73. Cassell, 1995.
  • Stuart Feather. Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens. Zero Books, 2015.
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None of this is found at all in Christine Burns' Trans Britain.  Review

21 June 2020

Gay Activists Association (GAA)

​The post-Stonewall activist organizations:

While QLF and STAR were run by trans women, trans women also played significant roles in GLF and GAA. 

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)
StreetTransvestite Action Revolutionaries. (also Part III of Sylvia Rivera)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - New York
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

See also The Five Years Following Stonewall - A New York Timeline

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The GAA was founded in New York City on December 1969 by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front  who did not approve of the donation of $500 to the Black Panthers. The GAA were prepared to work within the political system, their meetings adhered to Robert’s Rules of Order and they had a constitution.

Sylvia Rivera and Bebe Scarpi first met at an early GAA meeting, however many of the members were initially uncomfortable with Sylvia.

GAA applied for incorporation to the New York State Division of Corporations and State Records.  However they were rejected on the grounds that the name was not a fit name for a New York corporation because of the connotation in which the word "gay" was being used, and that the corporation was being formed to violate the anti-sodomy laws of New York. It took five years to win the right to incorporate under that name.

Initially GAA met at the Church of the Holy Apostles, 9th Avenue at 28th Street. The GAA preamble included “The Right to Our Own Bodies”:
This is the right to treat and express our bodies as we will, to nurture, display and embellish them solely in the manner we ourselves  determine independent of any external control whatsoever.
In March 1970 the GAA organized protests following the police raid on the Snake Pit gay bar, and this led to the first Christopher Street Liberation Day.

Sylvia, right, collecting signatures.
GAA had started a petition to get the reluctant Carol Greitzer, representing Greenwich Village on the New York City Council, to introduce a bill for gay rights. In April 1970,  Sylvia, liking the idea, started soliciting signatures right on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues where she did her usual sex hustling – and was arrested on the 15th while doing so. This was GAA’s first arrest. Sylvia recounted her adventures at GAA. This was heard by Arthur Bell, who wrote a story for Gay Power, and made Sylvia a celebrity. When her case came to court the public gallery was filled with activists from GAA and GLF. Gay attorney Hal Weiner volunteered his services, and GAA picked up the other legal fees. After several appearances, Sylvia’s court case was thrown out when the arresting officer failed to show.

Sylvia wrote to Gay Power newspaper:
I want to tell you a little about a new gay group. The Gay Activists  Alliance. I really want to talk to my sister queens. So girls, pay me a little mind.
Well, girls, many of us were waiting for a group like GAA. I knew many of us when we used to talk about the day we could get together with other gays and be heard and ask for our freedom and our rights.
GAA collected over 6,000 signatures, but Greitzer refused to accept the petition.  Sylvia was part of the 35-person delegation that GAA sent to confront Greitzer on the issue - to no avail.

In August-September 1970 GAA/ Christopher Street Liberation Day booked the basement of Weinstein Hall, a New York University residence building, for fundraising dances. On the eve of the third dance, to be held 21 August, the administration attempted to cancel the rest. Although the two remaining dances were held, the situation escalated and the Hall was occupied. Sylvia, Marsha and Bubbles were present – and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries was born.

In March 1971 there was a Conference of Gay Liberation held at Rutgers University in New Jersey with forums on sadism, masochism, and leather; bisexuality; and transvestism. Speakers from S.T.A.R., Queens Liberation Front and GAA addressed the inaugural event on transvestism.

GAA headquarters was moved to the Firehouse at 99 Wooster St in May 1971. It offered weekly dances, with a sound system as good as in the best nightclubs; film nights curated by film historian Vito Russo; and of course political organizing.

GAA and STAR marched together from the Firehouse to Wards Island State Hospital where Marsha Johnson was then confined.

John Wojtowicz, who had become well-known in gay circles after his marriage to trans woman Liz Eden,  was a GAA member, although mainly for social activities, rarely for political events.

In July just after Mafioso Mike Umbers had evicted the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) from one of his houses, Arthur Bell wrote about his influence in the gay bar scene in The Village Voice, and shortly afterwards GAA organized a protest campaign outside Umbers’ major gay bar, Christopher’s End, at 180 Christopher Street.  Wojtowicz was out of favor as it became known that he was associated with Umbers - he turned up at the demonstration holding a sign supporting Umbers, and apparently had passed on information about GAA's plans.

GAA succeeded, after lobbying and protesting, in getting the New York City Council's General Welfare committee to discuss the problems faced by gays and transvestites in late 1971. GAA equivocated and for a while agreed to the removal of transvestite protections. However it ultimately endorsed them. STAR and QLF also gave evidence.

The GAA Street Theatre Subcommittee included trans activists and supported trans expression.

GAA published the Gay Activist newspaper until 1980.

The Wooster St Firehouse was burned down by arsonists in October 1974 – perhaps by the Mafia to eliminate the competition. The Chief Fire Marshall reported that the fire, soon after 3 am had been set in at least six places on the upper floors.

The GAA was disbanded in 1981.

  • Eric Holm.  "Dog Day Afternoon, Dog day aftertaste".  Jump Cut, 10-11. 1976:3-4.  Online.
  • Martin Duberman. Stonewall. A Plume Book, 1993: 230-4,
  • David Carter. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. St Martin’s Griffin, 2004: 233-8, 248-9.
  •  Stephen L Cohen. The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York “An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail”. Routledge, 2008: 37-40. 107-111, 136-7
  • Lillian Faderman.  The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle. Simon & Shuster, 2015:.214-7
  • Phillip Crawford Jr.  The Mafia and the Gays.  2015: 34. 37.
     EN.Wikipedia
-----------------

It is now well known that Carter made no mention of Sylvia Rivera in that overall the evidence is that she was not at the Stonewall riots.  But why is there no mention in his book of her arrest re the Carol Greitzer petition, and her subsequent trial attended by both GLF and GAA?  He does otherwise write about the petition.  He is also silent about QLF and STAR, but not about GLF and GAA.

Faderman, who places Sylvia at the riots in a fleeting role, also ignores the arrest and trial.

I follow Cohen who discusses it in detail.

I was going to link to the EN.Wikipedia page for Carol Greitzer.   However all it says about her refusal of the petition and her general stonewalling on gay rights is "Following the nearby Stonewall Riots that had occurred months earlier, Greitzer met twice with members of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in May 1970".   I was appalled by this whitewashing and am not linking. 

19 June 2020

Gay Liberation Front (GLF) – New York

The post-Stonewall activist organizations:

While QLF and STAR were run by trans women, trans women also played significant roles in GLF and GAA. 

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)
StreetTransvestite Action Revolutionaries. (also Part III of Sylvia Rivera)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - New York
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

See also The Five Years Following Stonewall - A New York Timeline

----


After the Stonewall Riots, radicalized gays and lesbians attempted to work with the Mattachine Society of New York but the MSNY urged a tempering of demands and the avoidance of further uprisings. On 9 July 1969 a meeting was called by Mattachine-New York, and almost a hundred attended, and a majority voted for a march. The march planning committee felt that it needed a name, and Gay Liberation Front was suggested: in homage to the Vietnamese Liberation Front which was fighting US imperialism and the Algerian Front de libération nationale, which had gained independence a few years earlier.

The GLF met again a week later independently of Mattachine, and decided on a march and protest one month after the riots. The ad placed in The Village Voice said that the march on 27 July was co-sponsored by Mattachine and the Daughters of Bilitis, but at the march 2000 appeared and it was clear that Mattachine and DoB were no longer in charge.

The GLF that emerged was what today would be called intersectional. It denounced racism and the US invasion of Vietnam, and allied itself with third-world struggles and the Black Panther party. They spoke out against capitalism and the nuclear family, psychiatry, organized religion and mafia-run gay bars. And also against lookism, role-playing and objectification in the gay culture. And the homophobia and sexism in the New Left. Meetings were based on consensus and the chair was rotated. This was sometimes chaotic, and some debates continued for weeks.

Their manifesto:
“Gay Liberation Front is a revolutionary homosexual group of men and women formed with the realization that complete sexual liberation for all people cannot come about unless existing social institutions are abolished. We reject society’s attempt to impose sexual roles and definitions of our nature. We are stepping outside these roles and simplistic myths. We are going to be who we are.”
By December, some members had become dissident, and a donation to the Black Panthers was considered too much. They broke away and founded the Gay Activists Association.

Consciousness-Raising groups in GLF were organized. One cell published the newspaper, Come Out! – Zazu Nova was a contributor; another organized dances.

Bob Kohler became prominent in GLF. He lived close to the Stonewall Inn and befriended and helped the street queens who congregated in the park across from the Stonewall. He would sit and talk to them, give clothing or change, and sometimes pay for a room in a cheap hotel. He knew their problems. He spoke up for them in GLF meetings, despite opposition. At different times he brought along various queens, including Bambi L’Amour and Zazu Nova (who is cited by David Carter as being in the vanguard at the Stonewall riots). He had brought Boom Boom Santiago to an early meeting. “Here are the people that you’re supposed to be helping. Meanwhile they’re starving, they’re dying, they have no clothes, they have no food. They’re the ones who started the goddamn [Stonewall] riot”. Kohler’s appeal was actually met with hostility.

Only Sylvia Rivera had the staying power. Kohler was on the committee that organized GLF dances. He put Sylvia on door duty, where, even though often stoned, she fiercely collected and guarded the money.  However the queen known as Orphan Annie volunteered to distribute GLF leaflets in Greenwich Village, and gave one to lovers Arthur Evans and Arthur Bell – which led to them coming into the group.

There was an ongoing problem with homophobia within the Black Panthers. They had been confronted on this issue by GLF at a rally at New Haven on 1 May 1970. Shortly afterwards Panther Huey Newton published an admonishment that militant blacks should acknowledge their insecurities about homosexuality. The GLF was invited to send a delegation to a Panther convention in Philadelphia, and Sylvia was chosen as part of the delegation. Huey even remembered her from a demonstration in New York.

By this time GLF women were becoming impatient with the sexism of the men, and many of them left and founded Lavender Menace, which had a different fight after being excluded from the First and Second Congress to Unite Women.

New York GLF folded in 1971.

  • Martin Duberman. Stonewall. A Plume Book, 1993: 188-9, 219-32, 235-9, 246-53,
  • David Carter. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. St Martin’s Griffin, 2004: 213-232, 241-3.
  • Stephen L Cohen. The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York “An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail”. Routledge, 2008:
  • Lillian Faderman. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle. Simon & Shuster, 2015: 194-201, 210-3, 228-232, 265, 343, 589.