Johnson, Marsha P.
- Gabriel Mayora
gay and transgender activist, theater performer, and U.S. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) icon, was born Malcolm Michaels, Jr. in Elizabeth, New Jersey. There is no available information about Johnson's parents, but in Michael Kasino's 2012 documentary Pay It No Mind Johnson briefly mentions her mother, though she does not provide her name or occupation; she never brings up her father, suggesting, perhaps, that she was raised in a single-parent household. As a child Johnson attended the Mount Teamon Church, a Baptist church in New Jersey. At age five she started wearing drag; later, when she was thirteen, a boy she knew from school raped her. Reflecting back on this early experience, Johnson identified it as the moment she discovered men could be attracted to other men and act on those feelings (Kasino).
Between the ages of sixteen and twenty two Johnson moved to New ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.