I’ve been blessed to interview Stonewall Riots veteran Miss Major multiple times and I always cherish learning from her wisdom. In early April, I had another chance to speak with her for Out’s Pride issue, asking her to retell the events of that first night during the Riots in 1969. Prior to this particular interview, I had read about the brutality of that night from various sources and how she had even been knocked unconscious by a police officer.
This time, however, I could tell there was apprehension in her voice, perhaps because going into too deep of detail would be to relive one of the most traumatic events of her life. Still, she managed to paint a vivid picture of queer and trans people being repeatedly slammed around by the New York Police Department that night.
“The memory of that first night doesn’t come to me with anything like joy or happiness, because so many of the girls and the few guys that were there got really hurt,” she said. “After the city police barged into the bar — with numbers and attitude — the feeling that was so prevalent that night was fear. Looking at the riot squad was like watching Star Wars stormtroopers, but they were in black with riot gear, sticks, guns, mace, helmets, and shields.”