'Pay It No Mind’ gives testament to African American drag queen, Marsha P. Johnson, a key figure in New York's LGBT community during the 60s and 70s. From the 60s, until her tragic death in 1992, Marsha’s activism and colourful personality impacted many people's lives.
A free screening of the documentary was put on by the University of Bristol's Ethnic Minority Society. While freebies appeal to free-loading students: the documentary promoted a message of giving. Marsha often used 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 had the potential to make your day.
Amongst these acts of kindness, Marsha was an important figure in the Stonewall riots. Taking place in 1969, these demonstrations paved the way for the gay liberation movement of this decade and the next. In the 70s, Marsha and her friend Sylvia Rivera set up STAR - Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries - which became a home for vulnerable lesbian, gay and transgender New Yorkers.
Marsha's 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.
'Pay It No Mind' reminds us of the impact individual people have within great social movements. Marsha is a valuable figure to remember this Black History Month.
Elena Angelides, Theatre Editor