Pride Month History: Marsha P Johnson

 

The P stands for “Pay it no mind”

 

[CW mention of suicide]

Marsha P Johnson was a black trans activist. She participated in the Stonewall riots, and was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front. Johnson, along with Sylvia Rivera, was a co-founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.). S.T.A.R. was a radical group that advocated for revolution not compromise. S.T.A.R. also operated as a social services organization that provided housing, food, and clothes to gay and trans street youth.

 

Sylvia Rivera (left) and Marsha P Johnson (right)

 

Both Johnson and Rivera were seen as radicals by many within the gay liberation movement. Johnson was constantly fighting against exclusion from within the movement, on the basis of her gender, race, and commitment to liberation over acceptance. She remained involved in street activism throughout her life, and was an active member of ACT UP during the height of the AIDS pandemic. On July 6th 1992 Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River. The police ruled her death a suicide, but those close to her were confident that she had been murdered. There is no evidence that Johnson was ever suicidal, and those close to her cited an increase in harassment shortly before her death. She will be remembered for her kindness and bold conviction, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Leave a Reply