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About Alyssa Harley

Alyssa Harley

Alyssa Harley

Alyssa Harley is an artist out of Brooklyn in the 1960's whose greatest obsession is words. She is the author of the spoken-word opera NUMBER TEN DREAM, among other works.

Posts By Alyssa Harley

For Sylvia Rivera On Her Sixtieth Birthday

July 2, 2011 |

Sylvia Rivera, the Stonewall hero and godmother of the transgender community, would have been sixty years old today.  It is a gift to have known someone who is already deservedly becoming a legend.  It’s hard to swallow that it has already been nearly ten years since she passed.  In many ways, the NYC transgender community is still missing her, almost as much as those who knew her.

Last Friday when I mentioned her name to an older person, he pointedly said that he was “not friends” with Sylvia, although he had been friends with her best friend in life, Marsha P. Johnson.   I understand that sentiment.  Sylvia was a very difficult person to be around for those she disagreed with.  One cannot take her greatest gifts without remembering that Sylvia had once been a teenage sex worker on Times Square, that she had been a transvestite, that she had been homeless, that she had been a junky, or that she was a proud woman of color.  To have not had any of these attributes, however, would almost certainly have diminished her abilities as a leader in her last days.   Most of us in this diverse community have at least some of these experiences.
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