In 1970, Johnson and Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a pioneering activist organization that supported homeless and vulnerable transgender individuals.
We raised a lot of hell back when STAR first started, even if it was just a few of us. We have to do it because we can no longer stay invisible. We have to be visible. We should not be ashamed of who we are.
-Sylvia Rivera, 2002
Marsha P. Johnson
1945 - 1992
Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson is said to have resisted police during the Stonewall uprising, and fought for respect throughout her life for all members of the LGBTQ community.
Born in New Jersey, Johnson moved to Greenwich Village after graduating from high school with just a few dollars to her name. She turned the hardships of being a transgender sex worker and her struggles with mental illness into help for others. Johnson also participated in demonstrations with ACT UP, raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City.
Johnson died under suspicious circumstances at age 46. She is immortalized by Andy Warhol’s series Ladies and Gentlemen, and remembered as a pioneer of the LGBTQ movement.
1951 - 2002
Sylvia Rivera, a Stonewall veteran and outspoken advocate for marginalized groups within the LGBTQ movement, dedicated her life to giving a voice to transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming New Yorkers, especially people of color and those living in poverty.
Born in New York City, Rivera identified as a drag queen and approached the LGBTQ rights movement as a revolution. Her experiences with homelessness, sex work, and substance abuse fueled her activism. Following Stonewall, Rivera fought for visibility and transgender inclusion in gay rights groups.
Her lifelong advocacy inspired the founding of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), an organization that works to improve access to social, health, and legal services for LGBTQ communities.