Time to pack your picnic basket: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dedicated the East River State Park in Brooklyn to Marsha P. Johnson, a sex worker who thought he was a woman, whom an acquaintance called “a very nasty, vicious man, looking for fights,” and who eventually died in a suspected suicide.
Whatever it takes to create the first state park honoring an LGBTQ person, who in this case was hailed by ABC News as no less than a “transgender civil rights icon.”
Aug. 24 would have been Johnson’s 75th birthday.
“I’m proud to announce the dedication of East River State Park in Brooklyn to #MarshaPJohnson. Today, Marsha P. Johnson State Park becomes the first State Park to honor an LGBTQ person,” Cuomo tweeted. “NY is indebted to her for her brave advocacy and relentless fight for LGBTQ equality.”
The state plans to enhance park facilities and install public art celebrating Johnson’s life and role in the advancement of LGBTQ rights, according to a statement, which called the move the largest investment in the park’s history.
Johnson was a key participant in the 1969 Stonewall Riots that occurred after police raided a gay club, the Stonewall Inn, located in Greenwich Village in New York City and owned at the time by the mafia. Johnson and others fought back and was thus adopted by the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.
Johnson also founded the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) — a group aimed at helping homeless transgender youth — before he committed suicide at the age of 46 in 1992. His body was found floating in the Hudson River, and his family continue to claim the death was foul play.