Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans in the LGBT Community

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Marsha P. Johnson (1945–1992) (Netflix)

Marsha P. Johnson was a trailblazer. One of the vanguards of the Stonewall uprising, and a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, she helped initiate the modern LGBTQ rights movement in the United States. Along with her friend and fellow transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, Johnson also founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which advocated for the rights and welfare of young transgender men and women. Affectionately called "The Saint of Christopher Street," Johnson was a well-known drag queen in the 1970s and part of drag troupes like Hot Peaches and the Angels of Light. In the 1980s, she lent her support to ACT UP and other organizations that fought the AIDS crisis. While the police ruled it a suicide, Johnson's death in 1992 is widely considered to be an act of murder. Johnson's life and the circumstances of her death are now the subject of the 2017 film, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Also, Pay It No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson, a film released in 2012, pays a tribute to this pioneer of LGBTQ life, as does the Marsha P. Johnson Institute which launched in 2015 "to create a crucial entry point for Black trans women and gender non-conforming femmes to obtain the skills, financial and programmatic resources necessary in advocating for an end to violence against all trans people."

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