Stonewall Vet Miss Major: I Did Not See Sylvia Rivera or Marsha Johnson At The Stonewall Inn

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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17 Responses

  1. Dominique says:

    I have a friend who was there, too. And he DID see both of those brave transwomen of color. (Yeah, we didn’t call them that back then. But they were there!) #WhiteWashedStonewall

  2. Art says:

    Why is it always a white guy trying to discredit the contribution of trans and people of color … The way you stared your article said it all. That she didn’t see them doesn’t mean they weren’t there. In another interview she talk about hearing a noise. That she didn’t now what imwere it was coming from … Most people think it was MARSHA braking a glass. But you show such glee in this crediting them. So go see your twink white savor fantasy movie.

    • Will Kohler says:

      Actually Miss Major is the witness that can’t put Sylvia or Marsha at Stonewall. It was not a large bar and she knew both women. She would have been aware of them during the raid. Stonewall is about EVERYONE. Not one person and our history is much too important to fuck with because of an agenda

  3. STAR People says:

    Will, if you knew Marsha and Sylvia you would know they didn’t identify as women. They were street queens. Femme gay men who expressed themselves through dressing and acting as they wanted, not as straight people want us to. And Marsha didn’t alway dress femme neither. Those of us in the scene with them knew this. And know this. We’re not all dead. I get it that young people now want to claim them, but they need to respect their identities and true histories.

    Since you weren’t there, watch the documentaries OK, the interviews with Marsha and Sylvia. They are very clear. Marsha never called herself transgender. She said she lived as a woman at some points but said in interviews near the end: “I’m a man.” Near the end of her life Sylvia used the term “transgender” occasionally – as an -organizing strategy-, but she really didn’t like the label for herself. The only time she used it she called herself a “transgender person” = a gender variant person. This is very different from being a trans woman.

    I don’t know if Sylvia made it to the first night of the riots. I tend to believe Marsha. But Miss Major is not known to all of us, either. Miss Major is also claiming she was at the Attica riots, and I’ve seen no evidence of that. So there are more than a few things here that doesn’t make perfect sense. Thank you for looking to preserve history, but dig a bit deeper, OK 🙂

  4. Once again we are trying to pinpoint facts which while historically important are not the entire story. Talk to Jeremiah Newton as well as Martin Duberman. Who was inside,outside, threw what, when, and how is a journalistic fetish which I understand and appreciate, but largely ignores the fact that riots are messy, inchoate animals with many actions. We live now in a constant digitally recorded world which didn’t exist then. Both Sylvia & Marsha could spin a tale and elaborate depending on additives, just as most of us! I find this rather contentious detailing a bit of a sidetrack to the truer confusion of 3 days in which queer liberation created it’s own perception!

    • Will Kohler says:

      Martin Duberman took many statements at face value without any collaborating info and sensationalized it. His book is nothing more than fables which has helped creat this mess. But I agree that everyone was involved and everyone should be credited but the recent lores about Sylvia and Marsha are wrong and that should be known. They should be remembered for what they did do. Not things that they didn’t because some trans-activist think its kewl

  5. aelarsen says:

    Do we know for certain that Miss Major was there? She recently claimed that there were very few gay men in the riot, and that it was mostly drag queens and trans women, which seems contradicted by a lot of other people. And since several other people place Marsha there (Carter’s book accepts her presence, for example), are we certain Miss Major is the one speaking the truth? I have no ax to grind one way or the other–I’m just curious.

    • Ste McLean says:

      This comment didn’t get a reply. I’m interested to find out too.

      • aelarsen says:

        I have yet to see any source other than Miss Major herself that claims she was present. We know from police sources that there were only three men dressed as women in the bar (as the police considered trans people at the time), and one of them was definitely Marsha P. Johnson, while another was Maria Ritter. That leaves only one person who could have been Miss Major. Additionally, her claims that the riot was mostly made up of trans people doesn’t fit with any of the other evidence. The one photograph of the first night includes one drag and about a dozen men dressed as men. So it seems most likely that Miss Major is, like many other people including Sylvia Rivera and Stormie Delarverie, prone to inserting herself into the first night of the riot when she wasn’t actually there.

  1. September 25, 2015

    […] later. Miss Major Griffin Gracy, a black transwoman activist, claims to have been present, but has denied that Johnson was present and has also denied that there were many gay men involved, both claims that are refuted by numerous […]

  2. June 25, 2016

    […] people have claimed being there that actually weren’t.  In an interview with this website Miss Major Griffin-Gracy a community leader for transgender rights, with a particular focus on women of color and  serves […]

  3. October 9, 2017

    […] Transgender activist, filmmaker, and writer Reina Gossett has accused France of stealing work from her to create his investigative documentary saying that France saw a grant application video she made about Johnson, decided he would make the movie, then erased her work from public records and used it himself. […]

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