Photo: Netflix.
Marsha P Johnson, a black drag queen and activist, was a key figure in sparking the fight for LGBTQ rights. She was a protestor during the Stonewall riots in June 1969, which inspired the first pride parade in 1970. While her life was marked with extreme adversity — homelessness, poverty, bigotry — she famously declared that her middle initial stood for “pay it no mind” and approached everything with a positive, sometimes joyful, outlook. It energized her tireless advocacy for social and economic justice within her community. 

In 1970, alongside her friend and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera, Johnson founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, STAR, an organization that supported transgender youth through providing food and shelter.  

Johnson was an integral part of New York City’s subculture in the late 60s and 70s. She worked with Andy Warhol, featured in his 1975 “Ladies and Gentlemen” screen print series featuring drag queens and trans women. Since her death in 1992 at age 46, Johnson’s life and advocacy have gained recognition, and her tireless advocacy for LGBTQ rights has inspired countless to continue the fight for equality.  

Johnson’s fight carries on today as trans men and women continue to suffer from longstanding discrimination and violence. As our founder said, “It’s time for change.”