There would be no LGBTQ movement without Marsha P. Johnson. Together with Sylvia Rivera, she fought against the cops during the Stonewall riot, founded the Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to keep trans people off the streets, and was a prominent AIDS activist. The NYPD ruled her 1992 death as a suicide, but everyone who knew her suspected she was murdered. Her case was never solved, but fellow trans activist Victoria Cruz investigated it herself in the 2017 Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.
Directed by David France, the film opens with archival footage of the memorial walk for Johnson down Christopher St. in New York City shortly after her body was found in the Hudson River, and then switches to the present day where Cruz and several other activists with the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) discuss the death of 21-year-old Brooklyn trans woman Islan Nettles. Cruz is about to retire after working with the AVP since 1997, but not until she finds out what happened to Johnson first. The film follows Cruz as she talks to Johnson’s siblings, her former roommate Randy Wicker, several other LGBTQ activists who knew Johnson, and retired detectives gathering whatever information she can get ahold of that would provide some closure.
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