Campus Involvement hosts Marsha P. Johnson documentary screening


Mackenzie Zent, Staff writer

On March 31, the Campus Involvement Center hosted a screening of a documentary on Marsha P. Johnson. She helped lead the LGBTQ rights movement for over 20 years.  

The documentary screening was followed by a discussion led by the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club (SAGA). 

Johnson was a black transgender woman born on Aug. 24, 1945 and died on July 6, 1992.  

Her life is extremely important; if it weren’t for her the LGBTQ community might not have the rights they do today.  

In New York City in June 1969, police were raiding gay and lesbian bars, the most famous one being The Stonewall Inn.  

They were violently assaulting and arresting people who cross dressed, and others who were involved in anything non-gender conforming or non-straight behavior. People finally had enough of this and decided to fight back.  

Led by Marsha P. Johnson and other activists, riots broke out for five days which became known as the Stonewall Riots.  

A year later on June 28, 1970, the first Christopher Street Liberation Day happened. These events are what led to the gay liberation movement and why pride is celebrated every June.  

As an activist, Johnson did a lot to help communities of people that were struggling. She advocated for homeless people, sex workers, transgender people, and those who had been diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.  

In 1970, at just 25 years old, she co-founded STAR, which stands for Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. This was a homeless shelter for gay and transgender youth in New York City.  

With her co-founder Sylvia Rivera, Johnson was able to fund this shelter through sex work. During the day they wanted to teach youth how to read and write and other life skills at the shelter.  

STAR was the first LGBTQ homeless shelter for youth in North America and the first organization led by transgender women of color in the United States.  

These two women did much for others when they were both part of marginalized communities themselves. Marsha P. Johnson was such a prominent figure in United States and queer history, yet she is either not taught in schools at all or glossed over.  

It is important to keep in mind that if you celebrate pride month, remember that a black transgender woman, along with many other people of color, fought for the rights of the LGBTQ community.  

Keeping pride intersectional and celebrating and including everyone is something we can do to honor those who fought for our rights before us.  

Johnson was a trailblazer in activism in a time when it was not easy to stand up for certain communities.  

Keeping her memory alive by educating others on her and the impact she had is a great way to celebrate her and bring awareness to issues that still need fixing. Without her and the hard work of many others, life would look very different for a lot of people.