Becoming Two-Spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in by Brian Joseph Gilley

By Brian Joseph Gilley

The Two-Spirit guy occupies a novel position in local American tradition, balancing the male and the feminine spirit while he attempts to mix homosexual and local id. The accompanying ambiguities of gender and tradition come into vibrant aid within the strong and poignant Becoming Two-Spirit, the 1st publication to take an in-depth examine modern American Indian gender range. Drawing on a wealth of observations from interviews, oral histories, and conferences and ceremonies, Brian Joseph Gilley presents an intimate view of the way Two-Spirit males in Colorado and Oklahoma fight to redefine themselves and their groups.

The Two-Spirit males who seem in Gilley’s booklet communicate frankly of homophobia inside of their groups, a chronic prejudice that's mostly misunderstood or misrepresented by way of outsiders. Gilley provides unique bills of the ways that those males regulate homosexual and local identification as a way of facing their alienation from tribal groups and households. With those compromises, he indicates, they build an id that demanding situations their alienation whereas even as situating themselves inside modern notions of yank Indian id. He additionally exhibits how their creativity is mirrored within the groups they construct with each other, the improvement in their personal social practices, and a countrywide community of people associated of their look for self and social acceptance.

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Extra info for Becoming Two-Spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country

Sample text

Because Eagleton is so close to major tribal populations, it has a fairly concentrated Native population that is very active in an Indian Christian church and the powwow scene. Many of the gcs men had relatives or friends of the family, whom they were not “out” to, who were also involved in the urban community. As a result, they shared a similar predicament to the more rural men. However, the multitribal nature and large size of events such as powwows often allowed the men to blend in with their surroundings.

Gay and lesbian Natives took back the symbol of gender diversity when in 1994 they began to refuse the colonial-derived term berdache and proposed the term Two-Spirit. This accomplished two things – it removed the negativity of colonial impressions of Native gender diversity and wrangled the concept away from the popular gay community. The result has been a successful but partial separation from popular gay society. More importantly, Two-Spirit has become an identity that Native gays and lesbians can adopt that does not rely on sexual orientation but instead finds its inspiration in Indian culture and society.

Articles such as “The Bow and the Burden Strap” by Harriet Whitehead (1993) and the book The Spirit and the Flesh by Walter Williams (1986) became primers on indigenous gender diversity. The popular gay community began to embrace the idea of a tolerant Native society and readily used the berdache as a symbol to counter Western intolerance. In fact, multiple non-Native gay organizations included the word berdache in their titles. Unfortunately, the appropriation of the berdache did little to make gay and lesbian Natives any more comfortable in the gay community.

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