New Delhi: Google Tuesday closed the Pride Month by paying tributes to prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist Marsha P. Johnson. An illustration of her by Los Angeles-based artist Rob Gilliam is the day’s Doodle.
Born as Malcolm Michaels Jr. on 24 August 1945 in New Jersey, the LGBTQ+ activist had changed her name to Marsha P. Johnson after moving to New York’s Greenwich Village, a cultural hub for LGBTQ+ people in 1963. The initial ‘P’ is said to stand for “Pay It No Mind” — a response to those who questioned her gender.
A performer and self-identified drag queen, Johnson had played a major role in the Stonewall uprising that took place on 28 June 1969. The event became a turning point for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex people who, for the first time, came out on the road marching for their rights.
Police in New York had raided a gay bar called ‘The Stonewall Inn’ and around 200 people were dragged out of it and beaten up. Johnson was one of the few who stood up against police brutality.
The following year, she founded the Street Transvestite (now Transgender) Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with fellow transgender activist Sylvia Rivera. It was the first organisation in the US to be led by a trans woman of colour and the first to open North America’s first shelter for LGBTQ+ people.
Google donating $500,000 to Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Google is known for coming up with the best animated Doodles to honour great figures and celebrate important days. Tuesday’s Doodle is all the more special because it was on this day last year that Johnson was posthumously made the grand marshal of the New York City Pride March.
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Gilliam’s illustration of Marsha aptly portrays her bright smile and iconic headgear. The Doodle’s banner behind her photo also shows colours of the Pride flag.
“As a queer person of color I owe Marsha so much. She was the catalyst for our liberation, the driving force behind the movement that has given many of us the rights and freedoms that we previously couldn’t even dream of. Marsha created a space for us in western society through her empowering bravery and refusal to be silenced,” said Gilliam on his creation.
A hashtag, #GoogleDoodle, has also been created on Twitter too, celebrating the life, history and legacy of the LGBTQ+ rights activist.
“Thank you, Marsha, for inspiring people everywhere to stand up for the freedom to be themselves,” Google’s tweet reads.
A #GoogleDoodle celebrating the life & legacy of American LGBTQ+ rights activist, performer, & self-identified drag queen Marsha P. Johnson.
— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) June 30, 2020
Google is also donating $500,000 to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which will provide “direct cash assistance to Black Trans people through the organisation’s Covid-19 relief efforts”.
In 2019, New York City had announced plans to build statues of both Johnson and Rivera, commissioned under the ‘She Built NYC’ campaign in Greenwich Village, just a few blocks away from the Stonewall Inn, which will be the world’s first to honour transgender people.
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