Telling Marsha’s Story

Photo: Netflix

Netflix are set to screen David France’s The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, exploring the life of a bi trans activist dubbed “the Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement” in the USA.

France previously directed How to Survive a Plague, a documentary film about ACT UP and the battle fought in the 1980s to get US politicians to take action on HIV.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson will stream on Netflix later this year.

When Marsha P. Johnson, the beloved, self-described “street queen” of NYC’s gay ghetto, was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, the NYPD refused to investigate. Instead, they chalked it up to suicide, a widely dismissed conclusion, and left the mystery to fester for decades. Having played a pivotal role in the Stonewall Riots of 1969, Marsha and fellow icon Sylvia Rivera went on to form the world’s first trans-rights organization, STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries) in 1970. And despite their many challenges over the years – harassment, homelessness, alcoholism – Marsha and Sylvia ignited a powerful and lasting civil rights movement for gender nonconforming people.

“Almost single-handedly, Marsha P. Johnson and her best friend Sylvia Rivera touched off a revolution in the way we talk about gender today,” said David France. “Their names should be household words. But Marsha’s life was cut tragically short and Sylvia died shortly thereafter, the victim of a broken heart. Getting to know their story through the investigation undertaken by Victoria Cruz, a seminal activist in her own right, has been one of the great honors of my career.”