BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: Stonewall Veteran and Transgender Activist, Marsha P. Johnson

TheOUTfront is proud to celebrate Black History Month by honoring Marsha P. Johnson, who when asked by a judge what the P stood for replied, “Pay it no mind!”  It was her fierce, outspoken, and vibrant personality that made Marsha P. Johnson a beloved and well-known fixture of the Greenwich Village street scene for over three decades.  Even pop art icon, Andy Warhol took notice of Marsha using her as a subject/model for his work.

An instrumental part of the Stonewall Riots in June, 1969, Marsha continued to fight for transgender rights throughout her life.  She co-founded STAR: Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries in 1970.  This transgender advocacy group ran a homeless shelter for transgender teens and drag queens and fed them while fighting for the inclusion of Trans people under the larger umbrella of gay rights.

Rare footage of Miss Marsha “Pay it no mind” Johnson

In 1992, Marsha’s body was found floating in the Hudson River.  Her death was ruled a suicide.  Despite friends and acquaintances witnessing her having been harassed earlier that day and insisting she was not suicidal, the case was never reopened and the cause of death remains unchanged.

Given the setbacks this week to transgender protections in public schools, theOUTfront can only imagine the choice words Marsha would have on the subject.   We know she is still inspiring and watching over her transgender children everywhere.

“Pay It No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson” is a 2012 documentary about this LGBT Community founding heroine.

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