Made by activists: Marsha P. Johnson receives memorial in New York


The New Yorkers had to wait a long time, now the memorial for Marsha P. Johnson is finally here. And only because activists have taken matters into their own hands.

The rulers in New York City made a firm commitment a few years ago that a memorial would be erected for the transgender woman and her colleague Silvia Rivera – no later than the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings. In 2019, however, they let the anniversary pass without doing so.

That’s why queer activists have now taken it into their own hands.



The American drag queen was a black trans woman who campaigned for LGBTQ rights all her life and was instrumental in the Stonewall uprising in 1969Photo: Eli Erlick / Twitter

The bust, designed by queer artist Jesse Pallotta, was placed in Christopher Park on August 24th, the heroine’s birthday. Just a stone’s throw from the “Stonewall Inn”, the famous night bar where the queer movement began in 1969.

LGBTQ is the English abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

Author and activist Eli Erlick tweeted photos of the bust and wrote: “Happy Birthday, Marsha! This morning a group of friends and I put this bust of Marsha P. Johnson in Christopher Park. “

According to Erlick, the memorial is the first statue of a trans person in town, and one of only eight memorials to women among the 800 monuments in New York City’s parks.

Who Was Marsha P. Johnson?

Johnson (August 24, 1945 – July 6, 1992) was a black American transgender woman, drag queen, sex worker, and LGBTQ activist. She was a popular figure in the New York gay and art scene from the 1960s and was involved in the Stonewall riots in 1969. In the last years of her life she got involved with the association Act Up against AIDS. Johnson is still considered to be one of the most important symbolic figures of the US LGBTQ movement.

On Netflix there is the documentary film “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” (“The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”).

“We can’t just wait for the city to build statues for us,” Erlick told CNN. This form of representation must be created by the LGBTQ community itself.

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