Women’s History Month – Marsha P. Johnson
Today we honor legendary LGBTQ activist Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992), in honor of both Transgender Day of Visibility and Women’s History Month.
For those unfamiliar with Marsha P. Johnson, she was known as the “Mayor of Christopher Street” in New York’s West Village neighborhood. When the gay liberation movement burst open in June 1969 with the NYC Stonewall Riots, Marsha was at ground zero—playing a prominent role in the Gay Liberation Front, and later in 1972 establishing the first-ever shelter for gay and trans youth, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) house, with Sylvia Rivera.
Marsha was known as a spirited, kind, and caring person throughout NYC’s LGBTQ community. Throughout her life, she never shied away from standing up for equal rights and was an outspoken advocate for trans people of color. When people would inquire about her gender, which happened frequently, she would tell them that the “P” in her name stood for “pay it no mind.” Marsha was also an AIDS activist with the organization AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) from 1987 through 1992 during the AIDS epidemic in NYC and notably took care of many people with AIDS as their health declined.
It’s also important to remember that Marsha’s life was more than activism. She found joy as a self-made drag queen of Christopher St., infamous for her unique design and costume creation made of thrift store finds, and later toured with the troupe Hot Peaches from 1972 through the 90s. She was a popular figure in the NYC art scene and did some modeling for Andy Warhol.
Sadly, Marsha’s life ended abruptly when she was tragically murdered on July 6th, 1992 at the age of 46. Despite her untimely death, Marsha’s legacy lives on through those she impacted and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, whose mission is to end violence against all trans people across the U.S., especially Black trans women.