Marsha P. Johnson; A Queen, An Icon, A Forever Legend

Marsha P. Johnson; A Queen, An Icon, A Forever Legend

Marsha P. Johnson, the famous woman known for starting one of the biggest riots, Stonewall Riot on June 28, 1969, in America, demanding equality for  the LGBTQ+ community at a time where equal rights were barely at large for more than a selective few groups. Marsha had many hardships in her life but would still put others before herself. She has fought for many peoples rights, including myself, and has affected millions long after her death.

Marsha P. Johnson was the fifth out of seven children born to Malcolm Michaels Sr. and Alberta on August 24, 1945. New Jersey. Marsha was educated in the Elizabeth Public School System and graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School in 1963. She enrolled in the Navy for a brief time until she settled in New York’s Greenwich Village, where she would soon find out that she was trans.

When she was left  to fight on her own, she soon turned to prostitution to survive and make ends meet. But she soon found a like-minded and supportive community in the nightlife of Greenwich. She had now found her new profession.

She found much joy in making money and performing as a self-made drag queen of Christopher Street. She was well known for her unique designs and costume creations. Throughout most of her career she was referred to as her dead name(Will not be named in this article), or Black Marsha. She then settled on the name Marsha P. Johnson, the P standing for “Pay No Mind”. She quickly became an icon in the LGBTQ+ community, helping homeless and young people of the LGBTQ+ community being known as a “drag mother”. She became extremely successful through this profession and toured the world with the Hot Peaches as a drag queen.

Though Marsha had struggles of her own, mostly mental health, she still had a profound passion for helping others that were at the same place she was. Contrary to what many believe, Marsha was very near and dear to home and would often visit family and friends on important holidays. When she visited she never came empty-handed, bringing gifts for her nephews and flowers for her mother.

June 28, 1969 Stonewall Inn, Christopher Street

Christopher Streets, things became violent after one of the members of the NYPD (New York Police Department) started instigating and interrogating a non-violent member of the protest. Marsha, according to many eye witnesses of the protest, Masha was one of the main people to confront the officer. This confrontation led to one of the biggest riots for LGBTQ+ rights in American history.

Following this event, Johnson and one of her closest friends, Sylvia Rivera, co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). STAR has helped millions of struggling LGBTQ+ members, specifically homeless trans individuals. STAR opened many homeless shelters for trans, homeless or struggling individuals in New York, Chicago, California, and even England, but was disbanded near the end of the early 1970s.

July 6, 1992, Hudson River

Marsha’s body was found in the Hudson River off of West Village Piers. Police passed it off as a suicide, even though many around Marsha never reported or remembered her being suicidal. Twenty-five years later, a crime investigator, Victoria Cruz, reopened the case.

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