Transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will be commemorated
with a monument in the city of New York. The news comes on the eve of WorldPride,
which would not be possible without the pair.
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, activists formative to the LGBTQ+ rights movement, will be amongst the first trans women to receive permanent monuments in the world. According to the New York City officials, the installation is planned to be placed down the street from Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, where the pair frequented.
“The LGBTQ+ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement, New York first lady Chirlane McCray told the New York Times. Johnson was Black and Rivera was Latinx. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.” The news comes days before WorldPride occurs in New York, a phenom that would not be possible without the pair.
In its initial story on the news, the Times deadnamed both Johnson and Rivera. The story has been since updated online to omit these names, though there are no notes that a correction or revision was made.
Johnson’s legacy continues to be commemorated in the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, first founded in 2016 by Elle Hearns and set to relaunch later this year. That organization hopes to continue Johnson’s legacy “and uplift the trans community with an emphasis on Black trans women.”
The new statue, which is estimated to cost about $750,000 and has yet to have an artist attached to it officially, will serve as an addition to the city’s lineup of monuments. Currently, statues of LGBTQ+ people practically do not exist in the city. The money for the effort will be paid for out of the city’s $10 million allocated for new public artworks. Some have said this would be an ideal opportunity to commission a trans artist of color for the job.
Early plans say the new work will sit in the Ruth Wittenberg Triangle. There has been no timeline announced for the project.
About The Stonewall Riots
On June 28 1969, the police stopped by The Stonewall Inn on the grounds of checking for alcohol law violations and other transgressions, which is something they did regularly.
What actually occurred was police intimidation and demands for payoffs in return for not arresting or publicizing the names of customers.
Johnson, known for her fierce activism and advocacy of homeless queer people and sex workers, was one of the first to resist police intimidation at the bar, and Rivera is rumoured to have thrown the first bottle.
The riot reportedly broke out when lesbian activist Stormé DeLarverie was attacked by police for saying her handcuffs were too tight.
Other Stonewall customers threw bottles, coins and other items at the officers as tensions boiled over when those inside the bar were dragged outside by police.
Both Johnson and Rivera, instrumental in the LGBT rights movement, are credited with playing major roles in the backlash against police brutality at the Stonewall Inn.