New York City to Erect Monument to Trans Icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

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LGBTQI trailblazers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will be receiving a monument near New York's Stonewall Inn, where patrons rioted against police in June 1969 for civil rights, the city of New York announced Thursday.

“Both Marsha and Sylvia were a significant part of the Stonewall era, when the queer community came out of the shadows and became way more visible and vocal," NewNowNext.com columnist Michael Musto told InsideEdition.com of the decision to erect the monument. "The sculpture in their honor is long deserved and a great testament to their uniqueness and accomplishments."

Activist Victoria Cruz echoed his remarks. 

“It is about time! It makes me feel really good that these people are being honored for the grassroots effort in gay liberation," she said. "It is about time our community is acknowledging them."

“I am very pleased that these two women are going to be honored in this way,” New York's first openly gay senator Tom Duane told InsideEdtion.com. “They basically gave their lives to this community and were special in so many ways.” 

The statues will be part of the city’s #SheBuilt initiative, honoring women who have made an impact in the history of New York. 

“We need more women statues around New York City,” Duane added.  

The news was announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

“When trans young people trying to find their place in the world come to the Village, they’ll look up at a monument to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera," de Blasio wrote. "They’ll see themselves, and their own potential to make history.”

“The monument honoring LGBTQI pioneers Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson at #Stonewall will be one of the world's first featuring the achievements of transgender people, & will forever tell New Yorkers that #Trans people are proud, visible, & unstoppable,” the New York City Human Rights Commission posted on Twitter. 

City leaders said they hope to have the monument ready by 2021. The news comes just before Pride Month kicks off around the world.

Both Rivera and Johnson were at Stonewall during the riots. Johnson is said to have thrown “the shot glass heard around the world,” igniting the riots, according to historian David Carter, author of the book, “Stonewall.”  

Johnson and Rivera were sisters in activism in the LGBTQ community of the 1960s and through their deaths. Together they founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, or STAR, which was based out of Greenwich Village, to help young gay and transgender people in the city find shelter, food and a community.

On July 6, 1992, Johnson’s body was found floating in the Hudson River near the Christopher Street Pier. Cops immediately ruled her cause of death to be suicide, but friends, family and fellow LGBTQ activists believed that was not the case. Through the relentless work of activists and local politicians, her cause of death was later changed to “undetermined” by the NYPD.

In 2012, the NYPD reopened the case after more public outcry to get justice and closure into what really happened. The case was closed a year later but what happened remains undetermined.

Rivera died in February 2002 from liver cancer. She was 50 years old. In 2005, the corner of Hudson and Christopher Streets was renamed “Sylvia Rivera Way.” 

A photo of Johnson and Rivera now hangs in the back room of the Stonewall Inn as a tribute to the two. 

In 2016, President Obama declared the Stonewall Inn a National and Historic Landmark.

“I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s National Park System. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one,” he said at the time. 

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