Marsha “Pay it no mind” Johnson

By Nimika Jaggi

This true but hard to digest statement for homophobes, “I may be crazy, but that don’t make me wrong” was immortalised by Marsha P. Johnson. Her name has only started receiving the recognition it deserves in recent years despite her revolutionary contributions to the LGBTQIA community.

Pride started as a riot, and this uproar was led by this flamboyantly courageous woman, Marsha P. Johnson. Hailing from New Jersey, Marsha started wearing dresses at the age of 5 but had to stop due to sexual harassment faced at the hands of other teenagers.

Marsha left for New York after finishing high school, with only $15 to her name, to get away from her unsupportive family. She struggled to make ends meet in the big apple but still gave away her meager savings to people she considered needier than her. Marsha’s selflessness led to her friends calling her Robin Hood. Survival may have been a struggle for her, but she lived boldly and fearlessly.

Greenwich had the fortune to see this goddess in all her glory. Marsha was an energetic and ethereal being who was always decked with flowers and plastic jewelry. Her compassionate self, unfortunately, did not receive the kindness she deserved. Poverty and prostitution were commonalities in her life. Her struggles drove her to establish S.T.A.R- Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with Sylvia Rivera, and this organisation aimed to provide food and shelter to homeless queer youth.

The P in Marsha P. Johnson stands for “Pay it no mind”, which was a typical sentence used by her to address nosy homophobes. Unfortunately, people took this saying to heart and ignored her contributions during the queer revolution. Despite being at the frontier of the stonewall riots, she had to face racism and transphobia from her own (LGBT) community. But we at AIQA are glad that her achievements are being posthumously accredited, and she is being immortalized as a statue in New York. Her life and mysterious death were arduous, but we hope she can see and be proud of the change she brought into the world.