Three Leaders of the LGBTQ+ Movement You Should Know

Three Leaders of the LGBTQ+ Movement You Should Know

Photo: Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson/Diana Davies, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library via

Initially celebrated for only a day, known as “Gay Pride Day,” the day has now evolved into a month-long series of events — including pride parades, workshops, concerts, and much more.

As we near the close of Pride Month, remember the three Black and Latina leaders of the LGBTQ+ movement.  

Sylvia Rivera

The Stonewall riots in New York were a turning point for the Gay Liberation Movement. At just 17-years-old, Sylvia Riveria helped lead the Stonewall Riots. 

The lifelong transgender activist was said to throw the second cocktail at police who were raiding the Stonewall Inn.

Later on, Sylvia, a Latina transgender woman, co-founded the Gay Liberation Front, a number of gay liberation groups that fight racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

Sylvia also co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with another activist, Marsha P. Johnson. 

Marsha P. Johnson

Johnson was one of the leaders of the Stonewall Riots at just 23 years old. Johnson, a Black trans woman, helped lead the LGBTQ+ movement for nearly 25 years. In 1970, a year after the Stonewall Riots, she co-founded STAR with Sylvia.

STAR was a shelter for homeless transgender youth, the first LGBTQ+ youth shelter in North America, and the first organization led by transgender women of color in America. 

Johnson advocated for trans and homeless people, people living with HIV/AIDS, the incarcerated, sex workers.

(L-R) Latina transgender activist Bamby Salcedo, Actress Laverne Cox, Adult Film Producer Buck Angel, Trans Activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and American Soldier Shane Ortega attend the Outfest 2016 Screening Of “The Trans List” at Director’s Guild Of America on July 16, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo: Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a Black transgender woman who also engaged in the Stonewall Riots.  A police officer knocked Griffin-Gracy unconscious and broke her jaw before being brought into custody during the first night of riots. 

After her five years of imprisonment, she continued her activism by becoming the executive director at Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP).