Saturday, May 20
Reel Affirmations/Capital Trans Pride
“Major!” is a lively and inventive documentary by Annalise Ophelian that captures the wild spirit and fierce engagement of the indomitable Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a fabulous trans activist who’s been part of the struggle for human rights since the 1950s.
Sponsored by Reel Affirmations, “Major!” screens on Saturday May 20 at 1:30 p.m. at the Studio Theatre as part of Capital Trans Pride. Tickets are free.
The movie opens by chronicling Miss Major’s work with the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project, a group founded by Alex Lee to support transgender women (especially women of color) who have been imprisoned. This section includes moving testimonials from several of the women Griffin-Gracy has worked with and who consider themselves part of Miss Major’s family.
The film then tracks Griffin-Gracy’s amazing life. Born in Chicago in 1940, the teen-aged Griffin-Gracy discovered the city’s fabulous drag balls. Under the care of the drag community, Miss Major started learning how to express her true self. Likening herself to the title character in “Gypsy,” she remembers saying to the mirror, “There’s Major. Where the hell have you been?”
From there, Griffin-Gracy’s life has taken her across the country and through several of the defining moments of recent LGBT history. She moved to New York to become a performer at the Jewel Box Revue and was a leader during the Stonewall Riots. Since then, she has worked tirelessly and selflessly as an activist for the trans community.
“Major!” is a thoroughly entertaining and informative documentary. The award-winning film combines archival footage with poignant interviews with Griffin-Gracy and a wide circle of friends and associates, including activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis. The material is neatly organized under several broad categories (including “justice,” “history.” “roots” and “power”) and is punctuated with delightful animations by Wriply Bennet. The whimsical music by Star Amerasu provides an effective light-hearted counterpart to a life full of ups and downs.
“Major!” is a must-see movie for anyone worried about how we will survive the current political debacle. It’s a vivid portrait of a woman who has triumphed over incredible odds and made important contributions to the LGBT community for decades. The story of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is inspirational, not just for her incredible accomplishments, but for her resilient spirit fueled by equal measures of compassion, love, an eclectic sense of style, a passion for justice and a wicked sense of humor.