Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Marsha and Sylvia: The Queens of Gay/Trans Liberation

Several groups emerged out of the Stonewall riots and organized to fight for gay liberation and inclusion. Sylvia Rivera (pictured left) was an early member of the Gay Liberation Front, out of which she and Marsha P. Johnson (pictured center) formed Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to address issues faced by street people, trans people in prison, poor/homeless youths, and other marginalized people who were not being adequately supported or represented by the other LGBTQ organizations.

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera at the Pride March, 1973 (1973-04-24) by Leonard FinkThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Marsha "Pay it no mind" Johnson (August 24, 1945 – July 6, 1992) was a familiar face and powerful voice in gay liberation and trans rights activism.

Marsha P. Johnson at the Pride March, 1975 (1975) by Leonard FinkThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Power to the people

Sylvia Rivera (July 2, 1951 – February 19, 2002), a Latina trans woman, worked tirelessly for the rights of the marginalized LGBTQ community in New York.

Sylvia Rivera at Gay Liberation Front's Demonstration at Bellevue Hospital, 1970 (1970) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

The activist collective STAR was founded in 1970 by Johnson and Rivera to support homeless trans youth, sex workers, and other marginalized members of the LGBTQ community.

STAR at the Fourth Annual Christopher Street Liberation Day March, 1973 (1973) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Marsha P. Johnson at the Pride March, 1974 (1974-06-30) by Leonard FinkThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

“I was a radical, a revolutionist. I am still a revolutionist. I was proud to make the road and help change laws and what-not...no matter what it takes.” – Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera and Bebe Scarpi/Scarpinato at Gay Liberation Front's Demonstration at Bellevue Hospital, 1970 (1970) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

"I was no one, nobody, from Nowheresville until I became a drag queen. That's what made me in New York, that's what made me in New Jersey, that's what made me in the world." – Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson at a Demonstration at St. Patrick's Cathedral, 1970 (1970) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Community control of Bellevue

Rivera pictured at the Gay Liberation Front's 1970 protest against gay conversion therapy (which included the use of shock treatment) at Bellevue Hospital.

Sylvia Rivera, Bob Kohler at Gay Liberation Front's Demonstration at Bellevue Hospital, 1970 (1970) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Marsha P. Johnson is revered today as "The Saint of Christopher Street" for her contributions to history and to the LGBTQ community.

Marsha P. Johnson at the West Side Piers (1982) by Leonard FinkThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

All power to the people

Rivera and bisexual rights activist Brenda Howard (far left) pictured at Gay Liberation Front's 1970 Bellevue Hospital protest.

Gay Liberation Front's Demonstration at Bellevue Hospital, 1970 (1970) by Richard C. WandelThe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Credits: Story

Sylvia Rivera quote was pulled from a Worker's World interview of Sylvia Rivera by Leslie Feinberg. It has since been reprinted with permission by Queer Bible here.


Marsha P. Johnson quote pulled from Lauryn Marchand's "Pay It No Mind: remembering Marsha P. Johnson." You can read the article in full here.


This exhibit was curated by Yasmin E. Davidson.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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