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The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

This biography explores the life of Marsha P. Johnson, a popular LGBT activist in New York City, who was found dead in the Hudson River in July 1992. Marsha and her long-time friend Sylvia Rivera were involved with the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and started the first trans activist organization, STAR, in NYC. One of her friends, Victoria Cruz, as she is getting ready to retire, decides to try to find answers to the case that police had long since closed and deemed a suicide. Victoria’s investigation was less interesting than following the lives of Marsha and Sylvia in the context of the gay rights movement. I think it is a lesser told story about how the trans community was the catalyst for the uprising yet was marginalized within the larger LGB movement. There is one particularly memorable scene where Sylvia is speaking out at the NYC gay pride rally and is booed by the audience. Thumbs up for a film that is a welcome addition to the filmography of the LGBT movement from the trans perspective. We probably wouldn’t be where we are today without icons such as Marsha and Sylvia. (2017; 4 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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