Shero Of The Month: We Celebrate Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson Was The Black Trans Womxn Who Threw The First Stone, That Begun The Gay Liberation Movement

Marsha P. Johnson was a Black American LGBT activist who is best known for her work towards the gay liberation movement. Born as Malcolm Michaels Jr. in August 1945. Marsha spent most of her childhood and adolescence hiding her true identity. After graduating high school in 1963, Marsha left her home in New Jersey for the city of New York with only 15 dollars in her pocket and a bag of clothes.

In the 1960s, Marsha’s very own existence was illegal. She was a gender non-conforming black drag queen who was loud and proud of who she was. The most popular story told about her is one of the Stonewall Riots. On June 28th, 1969, police raided a gay bar called The Stonewall Inn. This was one of the only places where trans people could go to socialise and feel a sense of community. After the police tore through Stonewall Inn, the people fought back. It is said that Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman was the one who threw the first stone. 

Trans womxn, especially trans womxn of colour were hugely discriminated against in the gay community. The fight for gay rights was one that glossed over the experience and struggles that trans womxn were facing. This was a problem then and is still a huge issue today. Marsha P. Johnson was one of the many trans womxn who fought against the police on the night of the Stonewall Riots. It would be this event, that would go down in LGBT history as the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement and it is why Pride is largely celebrated in the month of June every year. 

Marsha was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front and would be active in many demonstrations in her life. This would include the first Pride Parade in New York City. Marsha would also be the co-founder of Star with fellow friend and trans-activist Sylvia Rivera.  Star stood for Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. The organisation was the first LGBT youth shelter in North America and saved many young lives of gay and trans people. 

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It was on July 6th, 1992 when Marsha was found in the Hudson River. She died at only 46 years old and her death was initially ruled as a suicide although family and friend insisted otherwise. Marsha’s life would be one of many trans lives that have been lost…or taken, without receiving a proper investigation by the police. In 2020, the trans community is still some of the most vulnerable people in the gay community. In 2020, trans people are being killed and nothing is being done about it. Marsha P. Johnson is a big part of the LGBTQ+ history and must be remembered and celebrated for her efforts towards gay liberation. 

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