Today marks the 77th birthday of famed LGBTQ+ activist Marsha P. Johnson.
Johnson was a fixture in New York City’s LGBTQ+ scene through the latter half of the 20th century, becoming a prominent face in the queer liberation movement. Along with Sylvia Rivera, she founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR, a gender non-conforming collective that provided housing and support to homeless LGBTQ+ youth. As founders of the organization, both Johnson and Rivera regularly appeared at gay marches and protests.
Along with Rivera, Johnson was also a participant in the later riots of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, where Johnson was spotted by eyewitnesses dropping a bag of bricks onto a police car from her perch on a lamppost she’d climbed.
Johnson described herself as a transvestite, a gay person, and a drag queen, and was often wearing a crown of flowers. She initially took the name Black Marsha before changing to Marsha P. Johnson, with the “P” famously standing for “pay it no mind.”
Johnson was found dead in the Hudson River in 1992, a time when New York saw an increase in anti-LGBTQ+ violence. Although her death was initially ruled a suicide, it was later reopened as a possible homicide.
Fans and fellow activists have taken to social media to celebrate Johnson’s legacy. “On this day, a Virgo Queen was born!” the Marsha P. Johnson Institute wrote on Twitter. “Marsha P. Johnson’s courage and determination sparked a movement and inspired so many.”
On this day, a Virgo Queen was born! 💐💓
Marsha P. Johnson’s courage and determination sparked a movement and inspired so many. And it was in her honor that the Marsha P. Johnson Institute was formed. #HappyBirthdayMarsha #MPJI #BlackAugust pic.twitter.com/wjDCzvdXh3
— Marsha P. Johnson Institute (@MPJInstitute) August 24, 2022
“Thank you for all you accomplished,” wrote one Twitter user.
💥Happy 77th Birthday Marsha P. Johnson. Thank you for all you accomplished! A true legend, warrior, and trailblazer! pic.twitter.com/ZKYO9BbeON
— 💥James Leo Jackson💥 (@MrJamieD) August 24, 2022
“Rest in power, Marsha P. Johnson,” wrote another.
— The Honorable Angelina Nordstrom (@AngelNordstrom) August 24, 2022