Full documentary: The Life & Times of Marsha P. Johnson

In thinking about Orlando and revisiting all my favourite stories about the Puerto Rican drag-queens and trans-activists who were key to the Stonewall riots (Sylvia Rivera, more on her in a future post), I came across this documentary about Marsha P. Johnson, who was Rivera’s sister-in-arms.

The voices in this documentary talk about so many things, the night the riots happened, gay liberation, the first gay pride, lateral homophobia within the community, and her life afterwards.

The stories of Marsha and Sylvia are essential to our history and remind me again why I feel super uncomfortable when anybody, regardless of sex, makes derogatory comments about prostitution. It’s funny to think that many might consider Marsha to be weak but for me it’s her strength reaching through space and time that’s keeping me anchored despite so many fearful voices surrounding us today.

A song from River Of Sorrow by Antony and the Johnsons features in the documentary; Anohni named his band in honour of Marsha.

You can count your karma if nirvana is your goal
You can shake and you can rattle, you can rock’n’roll
You can be a Clark Kent or a Lois or an Alice down a hole
You can be a vampire on a mountain with a heart of stone black coal
You can be a leather angel on a sleek black Harley bike
Or a red-head screaming faggot
Or a dazzling dyke
You can lock yourself in a closet in a fine mink stole
But it really doesn’t matter if you aint got soul

– Marsha P Johnson