Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera to be commemorated with a monument in New York

The transgender women led the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and were pioneering activists of the gay rights movement.

johnson and rivera
Image Source: Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

Activists Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will soon be commemorated with a monument in the city of New York.

It is expected that the monument will be placed down the street from the Stonewall Inn, where the 1969 Stonewall Riots took place. However, its exact location will be finalized after discussions with the community.

Johnson and Rivera, two transgender women of colour, were pioneering activists of the gay rights movement and led the uprising against homophobic police raids of the gay bar on Christopher Street in 1969.

Johnson, known for her 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.

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Statues of LGBT+ individuals are virtually nonexistent among New York City’s monuments, and the city says the dedication to Johnson and Rivera will be one of the world’s first for transgender people. The announcement of the planned monument comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

New York’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, said on Wednesday that it is vital to include stories of activists like Johnson and Rivera and to give the monument a “name and a face”.

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Speaking to the New York Times, McCray said “The LGBTQ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement. This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”

Both Johnson and Rivera were drag queens who also founded STAR, or Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, an activist group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens and trans women of colour.

The monument commemorating the beloved activists is estimated to cost about $750,000, a spokeswoman for the city said, and officials will begin searching for an artist shortly. The aim is for the monument to be completed by 2021.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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