As June is Pride Month and Indigenous History Month; it’s the ideal time to discover some incredible Two-Spirit creators, artists and activists from across North America whose work you can follow, support and share.
Before reading any further; it’s critical to understand that Two-Spirit identity is exclusively Indigenous and should never be co-opted as a self-imposed expression of generalized spirituality for straight people to latch onto; yes, I’ve seen this, nor is it a term that applies to non-Indigenous LGBTQ+ people. Consider this your friendly reminder that any kind of cultural appropriation is offensive and unacceptable.
Typically referring to someone who possesses both feminine and masculine spirit; this distinctly complex and nuanced identity includes a traditional history of highly regarded spiritual, ceremonial and social importance within Indigenous societies. While Two-Spirit people belong to the full range of sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions found within the LGBTQ+ community; not every Native or First Nations LGBTQ+ person is Two-Spirit, nor is it synonymous with being trans (although some are).
As a staunch ally of LGBTQ2S+ communities; I’m not the person who should be explaining what it means to be Two-Spirit (my straight, White voice is not needed here). If you want to know more, and I sincerely hope you do; please take the time to explore this by watching the video below. You’ll learn from Geo Soctomah Neptune (they/them), a Passamaquoddy Two-Spirit master basket maker, activist, storyteller, model, and educator as they delve a little deeper into its meaning.
Further information is linked at the end of this post to help you become more aware of the history of how settler-colonial violence sought to enforce rigid Westernized/Christian gender binary roles on Indigenous nations. Two-Spirit people continue facing prejudice and pushback from society (including some from within their own communities); reclaiming their spiritual and sacred traditions is an arduous road to travel, especially when their way of being was almost stolen from them.
For now though, let’s celebrate Pride Month by learning about some incredibly talented, interesting and inspiring Two-Spirit people …
Rebecca Nagle (she/her) | Cherokee Nation | Journalist, writer and advocate focused on advancing Native rights and ending violence against Native women; in 2020 she won an American Mosiac Journalism Prize in recognition of her groundbreaking podcast This Land (season 2 coming Aug 2023).
Joshua Whitehead (he/him) | Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation | Writer, academic and poet whose book ‘Jonny Appleseed’ won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate, lecturer, and Killam scholar at the University of Calgary where he studies Indigenous literatures and cultures with a focus on gender and sexuality. His latest book ‘Making Love With The Land’ will be available Aug 23rd 2022.
Chrystos (they/them) | Menominee | A lecturer, writer and activist who has published various books and poems that explore themes around feminism and Native/Indigenous rights.
Adelina Anthony (she/her) | Xicana from the Payaya Territories in San Antonio, TX | Independent filmmaker and co-founder of AdeRisa Productions which is dedicated to producing bold, entertaining and educational LGBTQ2S+ POC films with an emphasis on Xicana/o/x, Chicanx, Mexican and Latinx stories.
Mel Beaulieu (they/them) | Mi’kmaw Metepenagiag First Nation and French | A contemporary beadwork creator who designs and makes artwork as a reminder that Indigenous cultures are not relics.
Geronimo Louie (he/him)| Chiricahua Apache and Diné | Advocate, fashion designer and TikTok Creator who specializes in embracing his cultural identity and traditions; including creating ribbon skirts, ribbon shirts and traditional outfits.
Patrick Hunter (he/him) | Ojibway from Red Lake, Ontario | A Woodland style painter and graphic designer who incorporates nature, trees, animals and other Indigenous imagery into his work.
Special mention goes to Delina White (she/her), Leech Lake Band of Objibwe who despite not being Two-Spirit herself, specializes in creating Indigenous, gender-fluid clothing for the LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit Native communities. Her work mixes traditionally Indigenous materials with contemporary fabrics and reflects Anishinaabe/Ojibwe history.
Pride Month and Indigenous History Month provide a notable opportunity to celebrate people from various communities. It’s encouraging to highlight Native/First Nations and LGBTQ2S+ people and the organizations that support them; but to truly honour the inclusivity they teach us, this kind of advocacy, love and respect needs to happen every single day.
How are you celebrating Pride Month and Indigenous History Month this year?