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Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera to have monument dedicated to them in New York City

The two transgender women were both prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising in 1969

2019-05-30

Words: Steve Brown

Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are to have a monument dedicated to them in New York City to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Johnson and Rivera were both prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and they co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) - a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, LGBTQ+ youth and trans women.

Rivera, who identified as a drag queen, was also a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance.

Rivera – who was reportedly the first to throw a bottle kicking off the Riots - died during the dawn hours of February 19, 2002 at St. Vincent's Hospital, of complications from liver cancer. She was 50.

Due to her mental health issues, many gay activists had been reluctant at first to credit Johnson for helping to spark the gay liberation movement of the early 1970s.

Shortly after the 1992 pride parade, Johnson's body was discovered floating in the Hudson River.

Police initially ruled the death a suicide, but friends were adamant that she did not have suicidal thoughts.

This year marks 50 years since the Stonewall Riots happened led by the two trans activists and the monument is set to be one of the first commemorating transgender people.

New York’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, told The New York Times: “The LGBTQ+ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement.

“This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”