Home City park Statue of trans icon Marsha P. Johnson erected in New York City / LGBTQ Nation park

Statue of trans icon Marsha P. Johnson erected in New York City / LGBTQ Nation park

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A bust of Marsha P. Johnson sculpted by Jesse Pallotta is on display in Christopher Park in New York.Photo: Supplied

A bust of transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson has been erected in Christopher Park in New York City. It is the first monument of a transgender person in the city’s park system.

The park is located near the Stonewall Inn and features a separate statue, Gay Liberation, commissioned in 1980 and installed in 1992. The room features statues of two men and two women painted white.

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Gay Liberation has been criticized for focusing on white cisgender people and for leaving out the transgender people and people of color who were part of the Stonewall riots of 1969. The Stonewall Inn, the gay bar in the heart of the city riot, was designated a national monument.

In 2015, the statues were vandalized by activists who painted them brown and adorned them with bras and wigs. A sign was placed next to the statues that read: “Black trans Latinas women led the riots. Stop whitewashing.

When artist George Sagal was commissioned to create the monument by wealthy arts patron Peter Putnam in 1980, his instructions were that he “should be loving and caring, and show the affection that is hallmark of homosexuals … and he had to have equality. representation of men and women.

“As we take statues apart, I think it’s just as important to collectively consider what is being put together in public spaces, the process used to erect statues and reimagine the function of the monumental work. “said sculptor Jesse Pollotta. LGBTQ Nation.

The bust includes a quote from Johnson at the bottom: “History is not something you look back and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions which are sometimes very impulsive and momentous.” , but these moments are cumulative realities. “

He describes her simply as “a lover of poetry, flowers, space and the color purple”.

Activists and artists unveil the new bust of Marsha P. Johnson in Christopher Park.
Activists and artists unveil the new bust of Marsha P. Johnson in Christopher Park.

The New York Park System has an incredibly low number of monuments and statues of women. Out of more than 800 monuments, only seven are statues of women of historical significance.

“We cannot stand idly by and wait for the city to build statues for us. We need to create representation by and for our own communities, ”added sculpture coordinator Eli Erlick.

Johnson was a well-known figure in New York’s LGBT and HIV / AIDS communities, an organizer and activist whose contributions to social change persisted long after the Stonewall riots ended.

She and her friend and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera founded Street Travestite Action Revolutionaries to provide resources, care and advocacy for homeless gay youth. Both are credited with fostering the development of a trans community, distinct from the LGB community as a whole, but with particular attention to intersectional issues like racial justice, homelessness and criminal justice reform.

His contributions were cut short when Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River on July 6, 1992. The death was quickly viewed as suicide, but a number of friends castigated the discovery, especially since Johnson had been injured in the head, a report that she had been harassed near the river, and a witness who claimed to have heard a man brag about the murder of “a drag queen named Marsha”.

The city halted construction of Marsha P. Johnson Park in Williamsburg after the civil rights icon’s family and black trans activists objected to the park’s design and the community’s lack of input.

The park has been widely described as ugly and in direct opposition to Johnson’s legacy of community organizing.

The New York City Department of Parks did not respond to a request for comment at the time of posting.