November 18, 2006

Gay Indians were accepted

Proud spirits

Gay Native Americans balance ethnic, gay identitiesA key glossary term in any lesson about gay Natives is “Two Spirit.” The term, in hundreds of different forms, has loosely meant an alternate gender that, in many of the Native American nations, was a revered and mystified tradition that helped establish centuries of acceptance for homosexual and transgender people.

But that acceptance started evaporating shortly after Columbus docked in the Caribbean, says Karen Vigneault, a lesbian and leader of the Nations of Four Directions, a gay Native American organization in San Diego.

“Traditionally in our culture, it was a part of our culture,” Vigneault says. “The creator makes no mistakes, and it wasn’t until the people who came to Turtle Island, what you guys call America, they’re the ones who put their beliefs on us.”

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