Marsha P. Johnson: The Pioneer

By Korrien Hopkins

Marsha P. Johnson was a leader during the standoff that culminated in the infamous Stonewall Riots, a rallying cry against police surveillance and harassment of people in New York’s LGBTQ community during the 1960s. Johnson was a black transgender activist who did many things to enact change in her community. She mentored and helped provide housing for homeless LGBTQ youth, served as an activist for AIDS with the organization Act Up, and founded organizations to serve trans communities. She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, and she co-founded the gay and transvestite advocacy organization, STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), alongside her close friend, Sylvia Rivera.

Sadly, the activist tragically died in 1992 at the age of 46. Her body was found in the Hudson River. The circumstances surrounding her death are still being examined. It was first ruled a suicide, but the case has since been reopened. Despite the loss of a pioneer in the LGBTQ community she lives on through her legacy. Today, we still fight against hate and discrimination of the LGBTQ community. We continue to push for peace and equality and we wouldn’t be nearly as far as we are without strong women like Johnson.