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Rise up: new monument to honour Stonewall heroines Marsha and Sylvia

Untitled, around 1970 (Marsha P. Johnson hands out flyers in support of gay students at NYU). The image features in the exhibition Art After Stonewall, 1969-89 at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery (until 20 July) and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (until 21 July). © Diana Davies / New York Public Library / Art Resource, NY.

During the early hours of 28 June 1969, police stopped by the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, checking apparently for alcohol law violations. But the employees and patrons of the gay bar resisted what had become regular harassment by the authorities, sparking six days of protests—and changing the course of LGBTQ+ history. The late African-American transgender performer Marsha P. Johnson was a prominent figure in the Stonewall revolution, fighting back against police brutality on the night. Along with her transgender activist comrade, Sylvia Rivera, the pair founded S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries). Their achievements and fighting spirit will be remembered with a monument proposed for Ruth Wittenberg Triangle in Greenwich Village. “The monument will be the first permanent public art work honouring the legacy of trans individuals,” says a statement from She Built NYC, a public arts initiative co-founded last year that “honours pioneering women and female-identifying trailblazers while addressing gender imbalances throughout the city’s public spaces”. The city has launched an open call for artists and designers (the estimated project budget is $750,000—please apply if you think you can do Marsha and Sylvia proud).