Marsha P. Johnson left her hometown of Elizabeth, NJ with only $15 and became a fixture in Greenwich Village, establishing herself as a gay liberation pioneer. While often homeless, Johnson still managed to act as an advocate for gay rights, AIDS activist and founder of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) in 1970 with fellow transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, a collective that provided housing and support to homeless queer youth. She was also a central figure in the Stonewall Riots in 1969.
Known for wearing a crown of fresh flowers, Johnson modeled for Andy Warhol, performed with drag troupe Hot Peaches and was dubbed the “Mayor of Christopher Street.” Johnson also adopted “P.” as her middle initial for “Pay It No Mind” as a response when asked about her gender.
In 1992, at the age of 46, Marsha died under mysterious circumstances when her body was found floating in the Hudson River. The death was initially ruled a suicide, but many friends believe she was murdered and the classification was later changed to undetermined.