And who is Marsha P. Johnson, you might ask? It’s okay—I wouldn’t have known had I not seen the award-winning, wildly enlightening Netflix documentary Disclosure (2020) last year. It explores transgender depictions in film and television, but it also provides a mini course in transgender history wherein the community’s most impactful leaders are highlighted. Marsha P. Johnson is among them—her legacy tendrils out in many directions, but the gay liberation and AIDS activist, drag performer, and all-around New York bon vivant is known for being a key participant in the seminal Stonewall Uprising in 1969.
Legend has it that she threw the first brick in response to the police raid. Ironically, this is a detail that has been forgotten—or intentionally muffled—in our collective memory of Stonewall. And actually, according to this excellent You’re Wrong About podcast episode, it may not have been a brick at all (here’s a transcript, if you really want to dig in). But no matter her exact contribution to Stonewall, Johnson’s long absence from how many of us understand the historical narrative of Pride Month (i.e., a resistance effort led solely by cis gender gay men) is troubling.
Which is why I was very keen to feature a new pendant honoring Johnson from the jewelry brand Awe Inspired, a highly giftable line of medallions and charms that embrace themes of empowerment while also celebrating iconic women of the past and present.
Johnson is captured in the pendant wearing a floral crown, a key detail from one of her most iconic photographs—artfully alluded to in a campaign accompanying the necklace launch that has Pose star Indya Moore likewise adorned in blossoms (and pictured at top).
“To have our first major campaign feature Indya Moore, a trailblazer setting a new standard for celebrity activism, means the world to me as a queer founder,” says Max Johnson, cofounder and CEO of Awe Inspired (no relation to Mother Marsha, as she was known). “We will continue to use the Awe platform to amplify the marginalized voices and give back aggressively to organizations like the Marsha P. Johnson Institute [MPJI] that are fighting to make our society a more inclusive and equitable place for all.”
Awe Inspired is donating 100% of proceeds of the pendant to the MPJI, which is devoted to protecting and defending the human rights of Black transgender people.
Top: Actress Indya Moore is the face of a new Awe Inspired campaign to support the launch of its Marsha P. Johnson pendant. (Photo by Claire Cali with photo direction by Alek Parker)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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