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Marsha P. Johnson image, free to use for all grassroots LGBTQIA+ community groups
Trans+ History Week What we do

Marsha P. Johnson image, free to use for all grassroots LGBTQIA+ community groups

QueerAF
QueerAF
“History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.” - Marsha P. Johnson

Finding images of Marsha P. Johnson that are rights-free and easy for a grassroots not-for-profit organisation to use is incredibly difficult. 

There are lots of iconic shots of this incredible Trans+ and queer hero - but very few are OK to use without paying large licence fees.

Money should not be a barrier to celebrating our history and remembering our Trans+ and gender-diverse trailblazers.

So QueerAF and Trans+ History Week have set out to fix that.

As we wrap up the massive first-ever Trans+ History Week, during which we commissioned seven articles and unique illustrations, we have one parting gift for you and the community.

We commissioned artist Sunday Avanti to create a portrait of Marsha P Johnson.

From today, we’re making it available under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for any not-for-profit organisation to use for free—see below for commercial licences.

It’s one way we hope to pay back the community for enthusiastically supporting our week, which has been all about learning from Trans+ history so we can apply those lessons to the present.

Marsha P. Johnson Trans+ History Week and QueerAF illustration by QueerAF, Trans+ History Week, Sunday Avanti is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Marsha P Johnson Illustration © 2024 by QueerAF, Trans+ History Week, Sunday Avanti is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Commercial uses of this image

Licenses for commercial uses of this image, e.g. in advertising, marketing, or by profit-making businesses, are available by contacting soareyou@wearequeeraf.com

What can we learn from Marsha P. Johnson?

In our inaugural Trans+ History Week workbook, which hundreds of organisations downloaded to create their own Trans+ History Week content, we refer to Marsha P. Johnson as a ‘transvestite’ because that is one of the words she used to describe herself.

The word ‘transgender’ wasn’t commonly used in the 60s and 70s, and we don’t know if she’d choose it today. Historian Susan Stryker supposes Marsha might prefer ‘gender-nonconforming’ if given modern vocabulary.

There is, therefore, a lot of conversation over Johnson's identity - as there is with much Trans+ and gender-diverse history. We can't apply words and labels to people who can't pick them themselves. However, arguments that Johnson 'wasn't transgender' are generally presented by those who seek to divide us.

Marsha was a gender-diverse iconic queer activist. She was one of many Trans+ and gender-diverse people who led the movement at Stonewall in 1969, working on the frontlines to liberate all LGBTQIA+ folks.

Today, there are efforts to alienate trans+ folks from other queer communities, but campaigns like #LwiththeT recentre that Trans+ people are deserving of equality and living our best lives and that we can do great things when we work together.

Recognising that we’re stronger when we stand together helps us overcome divisive tactics, as does understanding the nuance and millennia-old history of our community.

Modern liberation and the Pride movement exist because we stood together in the face of oppression. So let's celebrate icons like Marsha and make Trans+ history amplified, accessible and available to all.

We've always been here - and always will be.

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This illustration was one part of a series of official content produced for the first-ever Trans+ History Week. During the week we invested in, mentored and published over 30 Trans+ creatives from the UK, US and Europe. Want more of the history lesson you never had? This is for you