Just in time for the beginning of Pride Month, the de Blasio administration announced that it will create a permanent Greenwich Village monument to honor LGBTQ activists and Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) founders Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Artists now have until October 9 to submit their proposals for the monument through a city open call.
Both Johnson and Rivera, who met in 1963, were leaders in the Stonewall uprising and lifelong advocates and pioneers for LGBTQ rights. Through STAR, a collective and shelter, they supported homeless LGBTQ individuals and sex workers.
Johnson, who died in 1992 at 46 years old, was homeless herself for most of her life and battled mental illness. She was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and moved to New York City in 1963 with “$15 and a bag of clothes,” her recent New York Times obituary reads.
Rivera, of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent, was an orphan from the age of three. Raised by her grandmother, she ran away at 11 as she was criticized for her “gender defying ways,” her She Built NYC bio says. She resorted to prostitution to survive while she lived on the streets. In 2001, she resurrected STAR to advocate for pieces of legislation including NYC’s Transgender Rights Bill. She died in 2002.
The Ruth Wittenberg Triangle at Sixth Avenue and Christopher Street, near other neighborhood landmarks honoring the gay liberation movement—such as the Stonewall Inn—is the proposed location for the monument, which will be the first permanent, public artwork to honor transgender women in the world, officials said on Thursday.
“This memorial honoring their legacies could not have come at a more prescient time—as the federal government rolls back protections for transgender people and violence toward transgender people grows nationwide—our city is celebrating our trans communities and doubling down on our commitment to protect them,” Carmelyn P. Malalis, commissioner and chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, said in a statement.
“Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are undeniably two of the most important foremothers of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, yet their stories have been erased from a history they helped create,” NYC first lady Chirlane McCray, said in a statement. “Today, we correct the record.”