ALL ARTS Film Selects


Happy Birthday, Marsha!

The short film "Happy Birthday, Marsha!" shows a fictionalized account of New York artist and activist Marsha P. Johnson's role in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Blending rare archival footage of Marsha with an imagined story, the film portrays a birthday party that turns into one of the most important fights for LGBTQ+ rights in American history.

AIRED: June 18, 2019 | 0:14:58

(VCR clicks, whirs)

MARSHA: Ah! Is the camera rolling?

(high-heeled footsteps)

(people talking in background)

(jukebox music plays)

In 1963, when I came to 42nd St. and I was a butch queen,"

"and I didn't know nothin' about wearing dresses or drags or anything"

"I went there, and honey, theses queens start calling me Marshall!"

"And I was just empty, they was calling me Marshall, and I was


"And then they start calling me Marsha."

"And I liked it so much!"

"I said that's who I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be Marsha!"

Come on Marsha, you know you can't stand here. Move on.

What's with the radio?

It's for my party!

You'd better come, girlie.

Yeah. I'll be there.

Junior... you coming to my party?

I wouldn't miss it for the world.

You got change for a starving


I have these for the queen of Christopher Street.

Hey, doll.

Those for me?

I said, are those for me?

(water splashes)

(cat meows)

I think every day's my last one. I'm just in this world for the party."

"After the party's over, I'll be gone. Back across the river Jordan.

Outta here.

I mean, I don't never know what to do, Andy, you know,"

"I'm always getting confused, my computer gets all tangled up.

(offscreen) But you always seem to have it


I try!

(offscreen) I don't know how yo. Every time I see you at the 20/20,

"you're there, you're like the most together person,"

you're just there and you're so together.

It's expected!

(they laugh)

(people talking and laughing outside)

(glass clinks, cat meows)

(people talking and laughing outside)

(phone rings)

(people shouting in the distanc)


(On phone) Where are you?


(on phone) My party?

F * *!

Marsha, your party. Oh my God. I'm so sorry.

Let's go out.

-Come on, everyone's going to Stonewall.

Washington Square Bar got raided.

Everyone was supposed to be coming to my party!

Let me finish, girlie.

Everyone's going there, and I talked to Ed,

and he said that he would let you perform there.

All right.

On occasion.

Well bitch, I better see you cheering, then.

Of course, Marsha.

I love you, happy birthday.

Hey, Marsha girl.

Where you sneaking off to?

What do you want, Junior?

You think I'm not gonna follow the most beautiful girl

in the world on Christopher Str?

If I was so beautiful, you woulda came to my party.

Marsha! I made you something.

-Get in the damn car, Marsha.

Let me give you a ride. Where you headed?

Stonewall. You wanna come?

Baby, I'm goin' where you're going.

Hey Marsha, where we headed, girl?

I'm about to be on stage, darling!

I wanna come.

Don't forget about me, Marsha girl.

(from inside) -Whaddaya want?

We want to come in.

-You can't come in here dressed like that.

-You know, we got les.

(mutters) They let you in.

-What'd you say?

Of course I can come in. I'm perforing tonight. It's gonna be legendary.

(they cheer)

-Fine. Just keep to the back.

-In case you didn't get the message, but I can see you did,

cause you all are the message,

we have someone here that's gonna sum it all up for you, again.

She's the queen of this here island, she's the saint of Christopher Street,

it's miss Marsha P. Johnson!

If I wanted to be a saint, I would have died for our sins.

Honey, I would be a zombie, I'd have turned my sisters in.

If I wanted to be a saint, I would sleep when it was dark.

I'd be a loyal to the law, and not the queens in the park.

If I wanted to be a saint, I'd just pray to the pigs,

I'd say, Yes, Mr. Officer, instead of, F * * you, that's my wig.

If I wanted to be a saint, I'd just give em my damn clothes.

Instead I'll throw them in the Hudson, toss daddy Neptune my pantyhose.

I'm not sayin' that it's easy, to shine, to love, to twirl,

I'm not sayin' it don't hurt to be awake in this world.

(singsong) But the river keeps on flowing, the water's cool, deep, and blue.

(singsong) That river keeps on glowing, shining light right bak at you.

So stay awake my darlings, it's all we've got to do.



And I'm lost in the music! Honey, I've been lost in the music since when?

(offscreen) "About '74."

"No, I got lost in the music in"

"1963 at Stonewall. No, no, Stonewall 1967 I got, I got los. In 19.."

"Oh my dear, Stonewall! I got lost in the Stonewall!"

-"Heard it Through the Grapevine!" -"Marvin Gaye..."

"1969!" (laughs)

"I got lost in the music, and I couldn't get out!"

"I still can't get out of the music." (laughs)

(cheering and clapping)

Earth to your majesty!

You want a drink or not, huh? Cause you're holding up the line.

(sirens heard outside)

(mutters) What the hell am I paying them off for?

(music stops)

Is that for me?


During the daytime, they call us fags and freaks,

but at nighttime, we get even.

At nighttime, we freak on them.

(glass shatters)

(dance music)


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