Little Known Big History LGBTQIA+ Facts: Week Three

Two Black students painting a beautiful rainbow mural


The Stonewall Riots, which is commonly known (although a little misleading) as the start of the gay rights movement, was started by two transngender women, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Police attempted to raid the bar, as they had done many times before, and the patrons had finally had enough on that fateful night in June of 1969. Marsha P. Johnson is credited with throwing the first brick of the riot, although that has been disputed; however, what is not disputed is her influence over the community as an integral part of LGBTQIA+ advocacy.

Years later, Marsha P. Johnson was found in the Hudson river under suspicious circumstances. Like many transgender people of color, the circumstances around her death were never solved. It is important to also highlight that transgender people have fought incredibly hard for LGBTQIA+ rights and oftentimes they still remain on the fringes of society, even when society seems to be more accepting of segments of the community. 2021 is on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people, the majority of those murdered are transgender Black women and other women of color.

Interested in learning more? Check out The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson – Netflix, Marsha P. Johnson: Transgender hero of Stonewall riots finally gets her due, 7 Facts About the Stonewall Riots and the Fight for LGBTQ Rights, Stonewall Riots, Why is anti-trans violence on the rise in America? and 2021 on pace to be deadliest yet for trans and gender non-conforming Americans.