All communities should learn about this incredible person, Sir Lady Java. I got to learn a little bit about her as I’ve been researching various people for Black History Month. To some Sir Lady Java speaks for the Trans community, for others she represents the exotic dancer movement, and to most, Sir Lady Java simply is an activist.
According to the National History Museum: Los Angeles County, Sir Lady Java was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1943, and from a young age, she idolized glamorous women in entertainment like Lena Horne, Mae West, and Josephine Baker. Her mother was also one of her biggest inspirations. After graduating high school, she went into fashion design and hat-making and worked in nightclubs to boost her income before moving to Los Angeles in the 1960s. Java was noticed by club owners Redd Foxx and Gertrude Gipson in the L.A. club scene that Java became the first transgender woman of color to perform.
Sadly, a couple of years into the L.A. scene, Java received police harassment as they tried to shut her shows down. That didn’t discourage Java as she fought back with the ACLU against Rule 9 because it took away Java’s income and ability to work. The work of Sir Lady Java can be covered for generations of LGBTQ+ individuals and BIPOC members of the LGBTQ+ community.