Happy Birthday, Marsha!

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Happy Birthday, Marsha!
Directed byTourmaline
Sasha Wortzel
Produced byTourmaline
Sasha Wortzel
Written byTourmaline
Sasha Wortzel
StarringMya Taylor
Cherno Biko
Eve Lindley
Grace Dunham
CountryUnited States

Happy Birthday, Marsha! is a fictional short film that imagines gay and transgender rights pioneers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in the hours leading to the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City.[1] The film stars Mya Taylor as Marsha P. Johnson.[2] It was written, directed, and produced by Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel.[3][4][5] The filmmakers raised over $25,000 on Kickstarter to fund the film.[6][7] The film is a sponsored project of Women Make Movies.[8] As of January 2018, Happy Birthday, Marsha! is in post-production.[9]

The film, Happy Birthday, Marsha!, was released in 2018.[10] The film received some press after Tourmaline accused David France of using some of her labor in his own film on Johnson's life, which France denied.[11][12][13]

Historical accuracy[edit]

The film has been described as "ahistorical",[1] as it has some major historical discrepancies. The movie claims that Johnson was throwing a birthday party on June 28, the night of Stonewall riot. However, Johnson's birthday was documented to be August 24,[14][15] therefore Johnson couldn't be throwing a birthday party in June as the movie depicted. The movie claims that Sylvia Rivera was fighting with Marsha P Johnson in Stonewall riot, but her presence in the riot has been denied by many Stonewall veterans, including Johnson herself. Johnson claimed that Rivera has "fallen asleep in Bryant Park after taking heroin" at the outbreak of Stonewall riot, and Johnson "woke her up to tell her about the riots".[16] The film depicts Marsha P Johnson as the first person to fight back the police, but this account is also denied by Johnson herself. Johnson stated that she arrived at the bar at two o' clock, and "the place was already on fire... it was a raid already. The riots had already started."[17] Therefore, Johnson was not the first person to fight back at Stonewall riot.


  1. ^ a b "Power to the People: Exploring Marsha P. Johnson's Queer Liberation".
  2. ^ "'Tangerine' Star Mya Taylor Cast as Marsha P. Johnson In 'Happy Birthday, Marsha!'". /Bent. June 3, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  3. ^ Hodson, Hannah (October 24, 2015). "Talking with Reina Gossett and Grace Dunham About Everyday Activism and Why Empathy is Everything". Autostraddle.
  4. ^ Lindsay, Kitty (June 12, 2015). "The Trans Icons You Should Know About". Ms.
  5. ^ Walker, John (June 4, 2015). "Connecting Stonewall to Baltimore: A conversation with some filmmakers exploring trans history". Fusion.
  6. ^ King, Jamilah (August 15, 2014). "Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson: Trans Pioneers, BFFs, Film Stars". Colorlines.
  7. ^ "Kickstarting Trans Visibility on Screen: Sasha Wortzel on Funding Happy Birthday, Marsha!". Filmmaker Magazine. August 8, 2014.
  8. ^ Eng, Matthew (August 6, 2015). "Stonewall Trailer Gets Surprising Reaction from LGBTQ Community". Tribeca.
  9. ^ "Happy Birthday, Marsha". www.facebook.com.
  10. ^ Dawn Ennis (January 29, 2018). "Inside the Fight for Marsha P. Johnson's Legacy". Advocate. The United States. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  11. ^ Evan Urquhart (October 13, 2017). "What Would Trans Art Look Like if It Was Only Made by Trans People?". Slate. The United States. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  12. ^ "Trans filmmaker Reina Gossett accuses 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson' creator of stealing work". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. October 9, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  13. ^ "Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon". newmuseum.org. The New Museum. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  14. ^ U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936–2007, Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries: "Michaels, Malcolm Jr [Malcolm Mike Michaels Jr], [M Michae Jr], [Malculm Jr]. SSN: 147346493. Gender: Male. Race: Black. Birth Date: 24 Aug 1945. Birth Place: Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey [Elizabeth, New Jersey]. Death Date: Jul 1992. Database on-line. Provo, UT, US: Ancestry.com"
  15. ^ Scan of Birth Certificate. Accessed July 8, 2017
  16. ^ David Carter: Historian of The Stonewall Riots. Accessed July 8, 2017
  17. ^ Making Gay History The Podcast, episode 11 - Johnson & Wicker. Accessed July 8, 2017

External links[edit]