Each week we will highlight one of the many activists whose contributions helped shape the Pride movement in a crucial way in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992) was an African-American transgender woman, sex worker and activist whose life largely revolved around the fight for equality. Several eyewitnesses confirm Marsha's position on the front line of the Stonewall riots in 1969. She served as a mother figure for many drag queens, transgender women, and homeless youth in New York. The year after the riots, Marsha founded S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) together with Sylvia Rivera, an organization that offered housing and support to homeless queer youth and sex workers. During the AIDS crisis, Marsha joined the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power organization to, among other things, lower the prices for HIV / AIDS medication.
Marsha was an activist whose outspoken and protective characteristics significantly enhanced the Pride movement. Even after her death, Marsha's legacy continues to influence many through the Marsha P. Johnson Institute: a non-profit organization that protects and defends the rights of transgender people of colour.