A monument to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, pioneering trans activists who helped begin the gay rights movement, will be installed down the street from The Stonewall Inn, according to a statement by the city on Wednesday.
The monument is proposed for placement in Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, which is only a short walk from the historic bar. It was publicly announced on Thursday in honor of the Stonewall Uprising’s 50th anniversary, as well as part of the city’s effort to fix a gender gap in their public art. New York City says that the monument to Johnson and Rivera will be one of the first in the world dedicated to the transgender community.
Technically, a monument dedicated to the Stonewall Uprising already exists across the street in Christopher Park. Unveiled in 1992 and created by artist George Segal, the set of statues depicting four figures—two standing men and two sitting women—painted completely white. Critics of the current monument have asserted that it excludes transgender women and women of color, who were at the forefront of the Stonewall Uprising.
During an interview with the New York Times, New York City’s first lady Chirlane McCray noted the importance of having a monument that can be put with a “name and a face.”
“The L.G.B.T.Q. movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement,” McCray said in her interview with the Times. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”
Both Johnson and Rivera were drag performers and integral parts of the Greenwich Village life in the ’60s who worked for better conditions for homeless queer youth and those affected by HIV/AIDS. Officials from the city say they’re hoping to complete the monument to the two trans activists by the end of 2021.