Marsha P Johnson born Malcolm Michael Junior in 1944 originally grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey. At the age of 22 Marsha P. Johnson makes her way into Manhattan, New York City for permanent residence. Once there, one of her many jobs while living in the village was a being waitress. But she felt her work in the streets was much needed. Marsha focused on her continuing efforts to help other transvestites and street queens in the city full time and was viewed as a Drag Mother figure.
During the 1969 Stonewall Riots along with Sylvia Rivera (One of the children she mentored) were in the forefront of the riots in New York City. After the riots Marsha was co-founder of S.T.A.R., which stood for: Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries. Along with Sylvia Rivera they continued their active role in helping other trannies and street people.
During the mid 1970’s Marsha was a member of the Hot Peaches. The Hot Peaches Founded by Jimmy Camicia and Ian McKay in 1972 was a flamboyant communal theatrical troupe that was in every way a product of the counter culture of the 1960’s. In 1974 Marsha was photographed by Andy Warhol for a “Ladies and Gentleman” Polaroid series of images of drag queens.
She continues her mission to help others in the city into the 1980’s and early 1990’s. We remember in the mid 1980’s into about 1991 always seeing Ms Marsha skating all around the city, panhandling and carrying on. One day she disappeared and we always wondered what happened to her. Then one day we see a picture of her in a store front on Hudson Street and Christopher Street. That’s when we knew something had happened to her.
Later in 1994 we found out about her untimely death in 1992. The police ruled it a suicide after finding her body floating in the Hudson River and never looked further into what happened to Marsha P. Johnson. But her friends knew she wasn’t suicidal and a witness account later stated “she was being harassed earlier that evening near the piers”. RIP Marsha and you will never be forgotten.
Remembering Marsha P. Johnson, Courtesy of Karmalize. Thank you.