Transgender awareness week Day 2: Marsha P “Pay it No Mind” Johnson

Marsha P Johnson was another person who made a big impact on the movement. A transgender woman, Marsha P Johnson was an activist who refused to stop. She was there at the stonewall on the first night of the uprising. But she was not the one who “threw the first brick”

I was uptown and I didn’t get downtown until about two o’clock, because when I got downtown the place was already on fire.  And it was a raid already. The riots had already started.  And they said the police went in there and set the place on fire.  They said the police set it on fire because they originally wanted the Stonewall to close, so they had several raids.  

From making Gay History Podcast Episode: Marsha P Johnson and Randy Wicker, 2017

Johnson was homeless through most of her adult life and resorted to prostitution as a way to make ends meet but it wasn’t until she discovered the drag scene that she found her way.

“I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville until I became a drag queen. That’s what made me in New York, that’s what made me in New Jersey, that’s what made me in the world.” -Marsha P. Johnson

She struggled with mental illness for a while but she always remained strong.

Despite her difficulties with mental illness and numerous police encounters, whenever she was asked what the “P” in her name stood for and when people pried about her gender or sexuality, she quipped back with “pay it no mind.” Her forthright nature and enduring strength led her to speak out against injustices.

From Biography.com article: Marsha P Johnson

Marsha and Sylvia Rivera founded STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries which was a community organization that helped homeless trans women

 Johnson and her friend Sylvia Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and they became fixtures in the community, especially in their commitment to helping homeless transgender youth. STAR provided services — including shelter (the first was a trailer truck) — to homeless LGBTQ people in New York City, Chicago, California and England for a few years in the early 1970s but eventually disbanded.

From Biography.com article: Marsha P Johnson

STAR is an early example of how trans women were looking out for each other in time of need.

In 1992 Marsha’s body was found in the water off the pier at Christopher street. Her death was ruled a suicide but people are still skeptical. Victoria Cruz from the anti violence project in manhattan helped open the case back up and is featured in the Netflix documentary “the Death and life of Marsha P Johnson” Marsha’s legacy lives on in people like her who are fighting for the rights of trans people to be who they are and not have violence perpetrated against them. Thank you for inspiring people to join the movement.

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