‘Pay It No Mind’ gives testament to the story of Marsha P. Johnson. The African American drag queen, who was an important figure in New York’s LGBT community. From the 60’s, until her tragic death in 1992, Marsha’s activism and colourful personality effected the lives of many people.
A free screening of the documentary was put on by University of Bristol’s Ethnic Minority Society. While free-bees appeal to free-loading students, the sentiment which shone through endorsed the message of giving. Marsha, would use her bottom-dollar to buy cookies, and distribute them to street kids and rough sleepers. She knew, when you have no material possessions, being given a cookie could make your day.
Amongst these acts of kindness, Marsha played an influential role in the Stonewall riots. Taking place in 1969 in New York, these demonstrations paved the way for the gay liberation movement of this decade and the next. In the 70’s, Marsha and her friend Sylvia Rivera set up STAR, (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries) which later became a home for vulnerable members of the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender community in New York.
Her ability to disregard the hateful comments made about her Trans identity and race, coined her famous saying ‘Pay It No Mind’. Marsha fought for gay rights, from the marginalised position engendered by her race.
Reminding us of the importance of individual people within great social movements in history, Marsha is a valuable figure to remember during Black History Month.
Elena Angelides, Theatre Editor