Marsha P. Johnson (1944-1992) at a Gay Liberation Front meeting, ca. 1970. PHOTO by DIANA JO DAVIES. Johnson was “a revolutionary trans activist, Stonewall instigator, Andy Warhol model, drag queen, prostitute, 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.’" She is now the subject of a documentary that takes this phrase as its title.
Marsha P. Johnson, who was a transgender[ ] activist present at the Stonewall riots, was also a founding member of an organization that could only have been started in the 1970s - S.T.A.R. - Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries…Marsha was about as sweet as they come, a fixture on the mean streets who was always ready with a smile…I wanted to share this forgotten gem of a poem [composed by Jimmy Centola, formerly of the Hot Peaches theater troupe] that tells the history of Stonewall and of what happened to the gay movement by the late 70s in Marsha’s voice.
Can you spare any change for a dying queen dar-ling?
I mean I am dying.
I know you don’t believe me.
But I know what I’m talking about.
Yes I do.
Us queens know what we’re talking about because we’re for liberation, yes we are.
Look at the Stonewall.
When I first came to New York
all pressed and clean
in a white shirt and tie
what my mother bought me
I heard about the Stonewall
so I thought I’d go over and
check it out
Men are dancing with men
and one more gorgeous than another
and way in the back were my sisters, honey
turning it out in gold lame and wigs for days…