June is celebrated as Pride month across the world, recognising the LGBTQ+ community. Tech giant Google took the opportunity to celebrate American drag queen Marsha P Johnson who played an important role in impacting black gay and trans activists. She was a trans-right activist and is regarded as the pioneer of 1969 Stonewall Uprising. Her activism in the 1960s and 70's had a huge impact on the LGBTQ+ community at a time when being gay was classified as a mental illness in the United States. On this day in 2019, Marsha was posthumously honoured as a grand marshal of the New York City Pride March. As we celebrate her legacy, we bring to you some interesting facts about the person who inspired people to stand up for their rights. Marsha P. Johnson Google Doodle Celebrates The LGBTQ+ Activist During Pride Month With Colours of the Rainbow.
- She legally changed her name to Marsha P. Johnson. Her middle initial 'P' allegedly stood for her response to those who questioned her gender: 'Pay It No Mind'.
- Marsha is credited as one of the key leaders of the 1969 Stonewall uprising which is widely regarded as a critical turning point for the international LGBTQ+ rights movement. It is believed that Johnson was on the frontline of the Stonewall uprising, but many believe she was only a part of it.
- Marsha was only 23 years old when police raided a gay bar in New York called The Stonewall Inn. The police forced over 200 people from the bar to the streets, and used excessive violence against them. Although Marsha resisted arrest, in the following days, a series of protests and riots were held demanding rights for gay people. In 2019, the head of New York's Police Department apologised for their actions, saying, "the actions taken by the NYPD were wrong." Pride Day 2020 Date: History, Significance and Celebrations to Observe This Revolutionary Day, Marking the Start of LGBT Pride Month in June.
- Marsha co-founded the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) along with friend Sylvia Rivera. STAR provides shelter to homeless queer youth.
- She also co-founded the Gay Liberation Front, the organisation advocated for the sexual liberation of all people. The group was formed after the Stonewall Riots with the act being to maintain the momentum of the uprising.
- She was nicknamed the "Saint of Christopher Street" (where the Stonewall Inn is located) as she worked towards helping New York's LGBTQ+ community.
- Despite suffering mental health issues, Marsha dedicated much of her life in helping others. She was found dead on July 6, 1992, after she went missing. The police found her body after six days and it was said that she died by suicide. But many of her friends argued that attacks on trans people were common.
- Mariah Lopez forced NYPD to open her case as it looked like a possible murder. But the police reclassified Johnson's cause of death from "suicide" to undetermined
- In February 2020, the Mayor of New York renamed the East River State Park in Brooklyn as The Marsha P. Johnson State Park. It was also announced there will be a statue created in her honour that will be unveiled in 2021.
As her death created a controversy, a Netflix documentary was made on it by David France, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. She was engaged in cross-dressing behaviour at an early age and wad often reprimanded for it. Following graduating from high school, she moved to New York where she struggled to make ends meet. Thereafter she became a part of the nightlife of Christopher Street, designed her own clothes and helped other LGBTQ youth. There is no better time to celebrate Marshat than during Pride month.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 30, 2020 10:20 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).