MARSHA P. JOHNSON

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By Tim Sullivan!

Born Malcolm Michaels, Jr. in 1945, her mother told her if she was gay, she was "lower than a dog." She left home and moved to New York City with $15 to her name.

Taking the name Johnson from the Howard Johnson's on 42nd Street, and her middle initial P. for "Pay It No Mind," Marsha P. Johnson became an indelible figure in the queer community of New York in the 1960's.

She was present at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 and is considered one of the first to fight back against the police raid. In defiance of police efforts to shut the bar down, she threw a shotglass at a mirror - "the shotglass heard around the world."

With fellow activist Sylvia Ray Rivera, she founded Street Transvestite Activist Revolutionaries (STAR). The goal was to keep transgender people off the street, particularly the youth who fled to New York in search of acceptance. She and Sylvia often supported the organization as sex workers.

Routinely rejected by the gay community who looked down on transgender people and drag queens as giving their cause a bad name, Marsha nevertheless persisted in her fight for transgender people to be accepted.

She died in 1992. Her death is still considered an unresolved homicide.

"What's the point of complaining? It don't get you nowhere."

"Darling, I want my gay rights now!"

"Tomorrow's not promised to anyone."

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