Nearly 30 years after her death, Marsha P. Johnson is getting new life as the namesake of a New York City park. At a Human Rights Campaign gala on February 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared that Brooklyn’s East River State Park will be renamed to honor the transgender activist.
Related: Our transgender heroes: Remembering those who have paved the way
Cuomo made the announcement while asserting that New York was “fighting back” against hatred toward marginalized communities, per NBC News.
“New York State is the progressive capital of the nation, and while we are winning the legal battle for justice for the LGBTQ community, in many ways we are losing the broader war for equality,” he said.
The governor called Johnson an “icon of the community,” noting that the park — an 11-acre green space in Williamsburg with unobstructed views of midtown Manhattan — would be the first in New York to be named after an openly LGBTQ individual.
Johnson, dubbed the “Mayor of Christopher Street,” during her lifetime, was a drag queen and a prominent figure in the 1969 Stonewall uprising of LGBTQ folks against NYPD officers, which spurred the gay liberation movement. She’s also considered to be a pioneer of the transgender equality movement. Johnson died at age 46 in 1992.
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Additionally, New York City officials announced last year that Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, with whom she founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries group, will be honored with a permanent monument in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. “The LGBTQ+ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement,” First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray told The New York Times in May. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”
Let’s do a fact check shall we? Marsha did not found the STAR group with Sylvia. YouTube has an audio interview with Marsha who says it was started by Sylvia and she only came along after the fact and helped out a bit. As for what Chirlane MCCray says, she has it so wrong it makes me cringe. Implying that the LGBT movement was not a predominantly white male movement is silly. I’m tired of people implying that Marsh’a involvement was paramount when it’s documented by Marsha herself that she wasn’t even at the Stonewall Inn when it was raided. Oh, and neither was Sylvia. Let’s stick to the facts.
Hey, if it raises money and interest, what does it matter if history was bent a little?
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