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Opening a door to acceptance

Jasmin Campoya
Regina Reza, member of the Student Impact Association makes an impact within the UTEP community.

Marsha P. Johnson’s activism represented at UTEP

Marsha P. Johnson was a well-renowned activist for what is now known as the LGBTQIA2S+ community especially during the Gay Liberation movement in the 1960s and 70s which led Johnson to engage in the Stonewall Inn in 1969.  Without using any form of violence through this she represented the minority left out of what was then known as the LGBT community alongside Sylvia Rivera. This became a chance for Johnson to spread activism and inclusion for the LGBT community. 

Through her legacy, Marsha P. Johnson continues to spread activism across the nation and even here. 

Inspired by her legacy, the Student Impact Association (SIMPA), a social justice organization at UTEP, brings civil justice to people of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. 

SIMPA hosts many events on campus that UTEP students get to engage in to learn and promote social activism. 

“So, they were an active movement in acceptance and bringing down that barrier of separation and segregation, which did actually do a lot and it actually helped,” said Regina Reza, a sophomore psychology major at UTEP is a member of SIMPA. “They were an active movement in acceptance and bringing down that barrier of separation and segregation.” 

Johnson and Rivera created the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries activism group which helped anyone of any race, identity, or sexuality feel accepted into the LGBTQIA2S+ community. With Johnsons work in activism, it led to many organizations to creating an accepting space for people who identify a part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

“Now we can celebrate in UTEP the pride and the LGBTQIA2S+ as any person who identifies as any part of them,” Reza said. “They basically opened a window to let us in to open the door.” 

The UTEP campus represents a large amount of LGBTQIA2S+  students who are finding a place to feel accepted or to understand themselves. SIMPA creates a family for students while also allowing them to learn and share their impact of social justice and rights to others on campus. 

Prior to her death Marsha P. Johnson was identified and known as a drag queen; the art of drag is well known and represented in the Pride District downtown, El Paso, Texas and across the world. Representation of drag has been seen on television, movies and in Broadway productions. Some notable representations are seen on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the Broadway production of “Hairspray” and “A Star is Born” showcase drag artists and the drag community across the world.

“She’s actually a big inspiration for the drag community,” Reza said. “If you watch Drag race or other drag competitions out there, they have paid ohmage to her a lot of time by doing her iconic flower dress.”  

Though Johnson could not live to see her legacy today, her activism is being shared by people apart of the LGBTQ+ community and continuing her legacy to create safe and accepting spaces for others to feel heard and accepted. 

If you are interested in joining SIMPA, you can find the organization’s information on MineTracker along with their new upcoming events and meetings.  

Avery Escamilla-Wendell is a Staff Reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Avery Escamilla-Wendell
Avery Escamilla-Wendell, Arts & Culture Editor
Jasmin Campoya
Jasmin Campoya, Photographer
Jasmin Campoya is a bilingual student who is a senior currently majoring in digital media production at UTEP. She is a staff photographer for The Prospector, a photo editor for Minero Magazine, and is currently a social media and marketing intern for El Paso Inc. All while being a full time student, she also takes photos for her own small business, JasminCPhoto. Jasmin plans on continuing photography and hopes to work full time at an El Paso publication.
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Opening a door to acceptance