Movie Night: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
July 01, 2021
To round out Pride month, HSH’s E&I committee hosted a virtual movie screening of The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. The documentary follows the activist Victoria Cruz’s investigation into Johnson’s death, interweaving the story with snippets from her life and commentary from those who knew her best. Johnson, a self-proclaimed drag queen, was known for advocating for gay rights and was a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising. She co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) with fellow activist Sylvia Rivera. Days after the 1992 pride parade, Johnson’s body was discovered in the Hudson River. While originally deemed a suicide, Johnson’s friends insisted there was foul play. In 2002, police reclassified her death as ‘undetermined.’
Afterwards, HSH staff discussed the history of discrimination towards transgender people within the LGBTQ+ community; persisting violence towards transgender people, especially women of color, today; and steps allies can take to better educate themselves about transgender issues. The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson highlights the fight and sacrifice of transgender pioneers like Marsha and Sylvia and reminds us that there is more work to be done – systemically, judicially, and personally – to protect and enrich the lives of transgender people.