PRIDE FACT 6
Who was Marsha P. Johnson?
1. Marsha P. Johnson was one of the most prominent figures of the gay rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s in New York City. Always sporting a smile, Johnson was an important advocate for homeless LGBTQ+ youth, those effected by H.I.V. and AIDS, and gay and transgender rights. Johnson’s life changed when she found herself engaging with the resistance at The Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. In the early morning hours, police raided the bar and began arresting the patrons, most of whom were gay men. Johnson and another trans activist and friend Sylvia Rivera, arrived at Stonewall around 2am where, Johnson said in a later interview, “the place was already on fire, and there was a raid already. The riots had already started.” There are many competing stories about what Johnson did during the raid on the Stonewall Inn, but it is clear she was on the front lines. Johnson, like many other transgender women, felt they had nothing to lose. They were not only angered by the police raid but also the oppression and fear they experienced every day. In the wake of the raid, Johnson and Rivera led a series of protests. In 1970, Johnson and Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), “an organization dedicated to sheltering young transgender individuals who were shunned by their families.” The two also began STAR House, a place where transgender youth could stay and feel safe. STAR House was of personal importance to Johnson and Rivera as they had both spent much of their youth experiencing homelessness and destitution. The first STAR House was in the back of an abandoned truck in Greenwich Village.