Two key players from the 1969 Stonewall Riots—both drag performers and transgender activists—are about to be immortalized in a new monument in New York City.
According to The New York Times, pioneers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, both of whom fought at the vanguard of the game-changing ’69 riot at the Stonewall Inn, will be honored in a new monument in New York’s Greenwich Village. The monument’s location is proposed for Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, just down the street from the iconic Stonewall Inn.
— NYC Cultural Affairs (@NYCulture) May 30, 2019
At a press conference this Wednesday, May 29, New York’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, explained why it is important to highlight stories of activists like Johnson and Rivera, both of whom were transgender people of color.
“The LGBTQ movement was portrayed very much as a white, gay male movement,” McCray told reporters. “This monument counters that trend of whitewashing the history.”
Back in 1992, the city erected a Stonewall monument across the street from the iconic bar (pictured below), although its nondescript design drew criticism from LGBTQ advocates, who pointed out that the people depicted were all white and ostensibly cisgender.
Johnson and Rivera were both top recommendations for historical figures to immortalize from the She Built NYC advisory commission, which convenes to discuss which people or moments from history should be reflected in the city’s public art.
“Their fierce determination and commitment to coalition building have made New York City, the nation, and world more just and fair,” the committee wrote.
According to a press release provided to NewNowNext, funding for the new monument will come from the $10 million Mayor Bill de Blasio previously allocated for the creation of new public artwork following the recommendation of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers.
The announcement for the new monument was timed to the Stonewall50 and WorldPride, but spokespeople for the city of New York say it’s part of the city’s ongoing efforts to bridge the glaring gender gaps in statues and public art installations across the Big Apple.
As The Times previously reported, prior to this March, only five monuments in all five boroughs of New York depicted female historical figures.