Saturday is the birthday of Marsha P. Johnson. And to mark the occasion, a group is calling for a holiday to be dedicated in her name.
The G.H.O.S.T Project, a nonprofit dedicated to the awareness, support, empowerment, and visibility of the transgender community, has launched a Change.org petition calling on the U.S. Senate to create Marsha P. Johnson Day.
Johnson — who identified as a drag queen in her lifetime but is considered a mother of the trans movement — was a key participant in the 1969 Stonewall uprising against police harassment, an event credited with jump-starting the modern battle for LGBTQ rights.
She and trans activist Sylvia Rivera were founders of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which assisted homeless LGBTQ young people, and were active in the Gay Liberation Front. They fought for inclusion of trans people and people of color in the LGBTQ rights movement, which sometimes sought to exclude them.
Johnson died under mysterious circumstances in 1992. Her body was pulled from the Hudson River, and her death was initially classified as a suicide, but authorities later deemed it “drowning from undetermined causes,” a finding that was investigated in the Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.
The petition from the G.H.O.S.T Project reads:
Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson is one of the great heroes of LGBTQ history, and making her birthday a day that we reflect on our history, community and shared values would truly honor her legacy.
Andy Warhol immortalized her. RuPaul called her “the true Drag Mother who paved the way for all of us.” New Yorkers referred to her as the Queen of Christopher Street for decades. She was one of the first Stonewall patrons to resist during the Stonewall uprisings in 1969. She always wore flowers in her hair, and she always had a smile for everyone.
In the spirit of Marsha’s legacy, the GHOST Project provides both support and empowerment to members of the transgender community who are struggling to overcome and survive in a world that does not celebrate us. We learned how to care for community from Marsha, who made this road we walk on every day.
At the time of this article's publication, 24 people had signed the petition. One-hundred names is the listed goal. At present, there are no federal holidays named after LGBTQ people. In California, however, Harvey Milk Day is celebration day of special significance for public schools.
To honor their activism, Johnson and Rivera are also getting a monument in New York City's Greenwich Village, a block from the Stonewall Inn.
Sign the petition for Marsha P. Johnson Day at Change.org.