marsha p. johnson and sylvia rivera are finally getting a monument in nyc

The installation will commemorate 50 years since the Stonewall Riots.

by Mahoro Seward
30 May 2019, 11:28am

Marsha P. Johnson. Image courtesy of Netflix and Everett Collection

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

In what represents a win for trans visibility, the city of New York has announced that a permanent monument to pioneering drag queens and trans activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will open in Greenwich Village. The announcement comes just under a month away from the 50-year anniversary of the June 1969 Stonewall Uprising, the event widely credited for triggering the gay liberation movement.

It’s therefore fitting that the commemorative installation is proposed for Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, just a short walk away from Christopher Street, where the riots in which Marsha and Sylvia played a leading role took place.

It’s not, however, the first time a monument to the Stonewall uprising has been created. In 1992, a set of four statues, depicting two standing men and two sitting women, was unveiled across the street from The Stonewall Inn at Christopher Park. The statues, which are painted white and do not portray any specific protagonists of the events, have been widely criticised for their erasure of transgender folk and people of colour, effectively furthering a whitewashed narrative of queer liberation.

Even though this formal recognition of Marsha and Sylvia’s enduring contribution to the city’s queer existence is worth celebrating, it doesn’t make up for the harm that continues to be experienced by trans bodies, particularly those of colour. While Greenwich Village remains a historical hub of gay New York life, it has been extensively gentrified and sanitised. What’s more, we are currently witnessing a global epidemic of serious, often fatal, violence against trans women.

Still, the monument (projected to be revealed in 2021) is certainly a step in the right direction for trans visibility.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Christopher Street
marsha p johnson
Sylvia Ribera
Ruth Wittenberg Triangle