Two people hold a People of Color and Trans inclusionary rainbow Pride flag. Photo by Emma Rahmani via Canva.
News + Advocacy

Celebrating Indigenous Two-Spirit People This Pride Month

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.

Foreground Text: Celebrating Indigenous Two-Spirit People This Pride Month; a News + Advocacy post on Transatlantic Notes. Background Image: Two individuals hold a People of Colour and Trans inclusionary rainbow Pride flag; photo by Emma Rahmani via Canva.

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).

Rebecca Nagle holds up two awards. Photo from her Instagram account.
via Rebecca Nagle/Instagram

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.

Joshua Whitehead smiles happily as he wears a black off-the-shoulder dress and traditional native earrings. Photo from his Instagram.
via Joshua Whitehead/Instagram

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.

A photo of Mel Beaulieu wearing black overalls and a stripped t-shirt. They smile beautifully while wearing galsses and beaded earrings. Photo from their Instagram.
via Mel Beaulieu/Instagram

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.

Patrick holds up some of his artwork. Photo from his Instagram.
via Patrick Hunter/Instagram

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? 


Further Info:

For centuries, Two-Spirit people had to carry out Native traditions in secret. Now, they’re ‘making their own history.’ – VCU News

Pride Means Knowing LGBTQ History — Including That of Indigenous Two-Spirit People – NBC Think

22 thoughts on “Celebrating Indigenous Two-Spirit People This Pride Month”

  1. Thank you for writing such an informative and respectful post! I’ve learned so much in this post! I love how certain aboriginal communities give high honour to 2 spirited members – so refreshing!

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  2. This was an incredibly informative post, thank you so much. I wasn’t familiar with the term Two-Spirit before reading this but I’m going to be watching that video you provided shortly to learn more.

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    1. It’s something many haven’t heard of or, if they have, it’s often been co-opted/used in the wrong way by (non-Indigenous) people. It’s lovely to celebrate Two-Spirit this Pride Month and the video really helps break what it means down. Thanks for reading!

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  3. I did not know any of these artists so, this post was very informative. Art is a universal language and it speaks better to you when you are willing to explore new perspectives.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. I’d embarrassed to say that I didn’t know what two-spirit was despite seeing it all over TikTok. It’s great that you’re highlighting people within the Native American community.

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  5. Great post Molly! I learned so much and I also loved the video that you shared. I’m super inspired by the lovely individuals in this post. I love Patrick Hunter’s work, especially his print ‘Lakeside Dreams for Two.’ I love the blend of nature and vibrant colors. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. This was a great opportunity for me to think further about what “Two Spirit” means. I’ve thankfully not heard a straight person coopt this term, but now I have a little more vocabulary and knowledge to respond if I do.

    I’m excited about the authors on your list and look forward to exploring their titles 🙂

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    1. I am so thankful that you read this and saw the opportunity to respond if/when you see someone co-opting it. I have seen a few straight, White women use it to express their spirituality (obviously not understanding it at all) but these are the types of people who tend to appropriate from other cultures quite a lot. Thanks for reading!

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  7. Great post. Learnt so much about two spirit. Never heard of it before. Going to check out these individuals’ work. Thank you for sharing this important post.

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  8. Great post. This was very insightful and informative. I don’t no much about Indigenous people and never heard of Two-Spirited. Will check out the video. Thanks for sharing and educating me today.

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