New York City announces monument to honor LGBTQ activists

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray on Thursday announced the next "She Built NYC" monument will honor pioneering transgender activists Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, key leaders in the Stonewall Uprising that sparked the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the U.S.

The proposed location for the monument is in Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, a prominent public space in the heart of neighborhood landmarks that were essential to LGBTQ history and advocacy, including the Stonewall Inn and St. Vincent's Hospital.

"Transgender and non-binary communities are reeling from violent and discriminatory attacks across the country. Here in New York City, we are sending a clear message: we see you for who you are, we celebrate you, and we will protect you," de Blasio said. "This monument to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will honor their pioneering role in the fight for human rights in our city and across the world."

Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera founded STAR, renamed Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries in 2001, a housing and support organization for homeless LGBTQ youth and sex workers. They were also leaders in the Stonewall Uprisings and lifelong advocates for LGBTQ rights, particularly around racial and economic justice for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness and poverty.

In addition to Johnson's and Rivera's work and advocacy for LGBTQ, homeless, and HIV positive youth -- and particularly young people of color who were marginalized by broader LGBTQ rights efforts in the "Gay Liberation" movement -- they were also pioneers in early efforts to further disability justice efforts, particularly around ensuring meaningful access to affirming healthcare for all people.

The proposed location for the monument is in Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, located at Sixth Avenue and Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. This location will be finalized upon further discussion with the community. It will be the first permanent, public artwork recognizing transgender women in the world.

The artwork will be funded as part of $10 million Mayor de Blasio allocated for the creation of new public artwork following the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers.

The commission recommended addressing the general lack of diverse representation in the city's collection of public art by expanding the collection to be more inclusive of the many communities that have lived in and contributed to New York City.

The announcement comes at the beginning of Pride Month, which this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. The city expects 4 million visitors to celebrate WorldPride in New York City this year.

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