stonewall riots

Pay It No Mind: A Transgender mural honoring Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

MuralBrian KennyComment

Recently in May, I completed my first permanent public artwork in the form of a 2,100 square foot mural I designed and painted in Dallas Texas honoring Transgender pioneers and women of color Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera; both present at the Stonewall Riots and key figures in the Queer Liberation Movement. It is currently the country’s largest Transgender-themed mural and I couldn’t be more honored to have been selected and supported by Dallas based LGBTQ arts initiative Arttitude, the Dallas Council of Cultural Affairs, Impulse Dallas, and the Cedar Springs Merchant Association to create this mural on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, honoring these two queer heroes and in raising the visibility of our trans sisters and brothers through art. The mural’s design was developed in collaboration with the aforementioned associations as well as the transgender community members direct input, and is located in a parking lot on the side of a building along Cedar Springs Blvd in the Oak Lawn Neighborhood, home to Dallas densest cluster of Gay-owned and operated businesses. The mural features two prominent portraits of Marsha and Sylvia, both situated closer to the street for maximum visibility and includes a quote by each of them. I painted Marsha with flowers in her hair as she was often seen wearing them in photos, and because they represent symbols of enlightenment. Next to her is her famous quote “Pay It No Mind” and so I had her looking up toward the heavens with a smile on her face to express this notion that she was above the hate directed toward queer and trans people. Next to her I painted Sylvia, staring directly at the viewer, challenging and defiant; she was known for her courage; unafraid to throw bricks, march through the streets or grab the microphone and call passionately for the rights of all queer people. Next to her is a famous quote in which she describes the experience of being at the Stonewall riots. To the left of the quote is a series of raised fists in reference to the riots and the fight for equal rights for queer people. In the background, spanning the length of the wall is the Trangender Flag. Painted over 12 days by myself, with sporadic help from volunteers, including some very lovely local trans citizens, the mural’s completion was celebrated in a block party in which those attending were invited to contribute a few brush strokes of their own , coloring in some flowers along the periphery.

The whole experience really made my heart sing, and I very much hope to continue this kind of mural honoring our LGBTQ heroes in cities across the globe as there are SO MANY wonderful queer people from our history that deserve greater visibility, recognition and celebration. If you think your city would like one of these murals, and can help direct me to the right people, please contact me.

Pay it no mind cc.jpg

Photos by Werner Duhme and Brian Kenny.

Press Coverage:

NBC 5 Dallas/Ft. Worth

Dallas Voice


LGBTQ Nation

Gay Star News

Pink News

Mural made possible by Artitude, Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Impulse Group Dallas & the Cedar Springs Merchant Association.