I didn’t feel like reading anymore. I only wanted to disconnect a little from all those things I have pending and cannot seem to finish. I decided that I would disconnect by learning, so I began an online search for documentaries. By chance, I found one by the title of The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson directed by David France. I live in the neighborhood where she spent her life, and I frequently walk by the memorial fountain bearing her name–the fountain commemorating the place where she was found dead in 1992–yet I knew nothing about the life of this historic drag queen.
Ms. Johnson was an activist who fought for the rights of the LGBT community. She made history for many reasons, one of them being her involvement in the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City on a day like today, fifty years ago. A police raid marked the beginning of this organized struggle for LGBT rights and was a trigger for several liberation movements giving rise to the gay pride we now celebrate in June.
The documentary narrates the story of a woman with a complex life, a drag queen who lived on the streets, and who dealt not only with living ahead of her time but also with the AIDS epidemic and the drugs in 1970s New York. She was a model for Andy Warhol and a pioneer activist who fought for the rights of the transgender community.
In 1992, she was found dead in the Hudson River. Police classified her death as a suicide and did not begin to investigate the cause of her death until 2012. But this year, Marsha will have a monument in her name, in her neighborhood. And even though we have a long way to go until society accepts all versions of our selves, Marsha’s story is so moving that it must never be forgotten.