Pay It No Mind: Marsha P. Johnson – (USA, 2012)

36035_1236280481916_1676363007_471450_1745567_n„Am fost un nimic, un nimeni, de niciunde, până în momentul în care am devenit Drag Queen. Aşa am devenit cunoscut în New York, Aşa am devenit cunoscut în New jersey, Aşa am devenit cunoscut în lumea întreagă  – I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville until I became a drag queen.  That’s what made me in New York, that’s what made me in New Jersey, that’s what made me in the world.” -Martha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson was a revolutionary trans activist, Stonewall instigator, Andy Warhol model, drag queen, prostitute, starving actress, and Saint, as well as a downtown NYC fixture from the 1960’s through her too-soon demise in 1992. Johnson persevered through a life embodied by her middle initial P, which stood for „Pay It No Mind.”

„Johnson was a drag performer and gay & transgender rights activist in New York from 1966 until her death in 1992.  The hour-long documentary about her life, „Pay It No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson,” was recently made available online (see below.)  Many of us have heard of transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, but Johnson, Rivera’s friend and collaborator, remains a more obscure figure in queer history.  stonewall-veteran-Marsha-P-Johnson-441x600 Together Rivera and Johnson founded the group Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and were central figures during the Stonewall Riots.  Johnson was a drag mother, the head of the STAR House, along with Rivera.  They took in, clothed and fed young, homeless drag queens and transwomen, and fought for transgender inclusion within the gay rights movement.  It has even been noted that Johnson & Rivera worked the streets so that the younger ones didn’t have to.”

MBT-January-2013-Flier-pdf„It can be said that Johnson’s activism flowed through her self-reinvention as a drag performer and transgender woman–that the power she harnessed through her ability to freely express her identity was then used to change her community and the world.  Johnson was an artist.  She cultivated a look and persona that were unique to her.  She toured to London with the performance group Hot Peaches and was a model for Andy Warhol’s „Ladies and Gentlemen” photography series.  She used her drag persona to make money on the streets of New York.  She also used her drag persona to make social change on the streets of New York.  Her personal transformation lead her to participate in a greater social transformation.  The two are inextricably linked.”
marsha as activist„To quote punk and new wave innovator Richard Hell, „If you just amass the courage that is necessary, you can completely reinvent yourself. You can be your own hero, and once everybody is their own hero, then everybody is gonna be able to communicate with each other on a real basis rather than a hand-me-down set of societal standards.”  People like Marsha P. Johnson made it possible for people like me to live our lives authentically, to express ourselves truthfully rather than live a lie based on archaic & restrictive social norms.  Be black and proud, be queer and proud, be a proud punk.  And if people don’t like it, just remember, the „P” in Marsha P. Johnson stands for „Pay it no mind!”


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