In celebration of Pride Month, I thought I would provide some information about the intersectionality of the Native + Indigenous and Pride communities, specifically about the views of Two Spirit/LGBTQ+ people in the more than 560 surviving Native American cultures (some of this also applies to the First Nations of Canada). Note the plural of the word “culture” in the previous sentence is there to remind that not all Native American tribes/First Nations have the same views when it comes to Two Spirit folks.
A Two Spirit person is someone that was blessed by the Creator with both male and female spirits. The English term “Two Spirit” was created in the 1990s as an umbrella term for LGBTQ+ Native Americans and isn’t a specific definition of gender, sexual orientation, etc. The English term is also pan-Indian, meaning it is a generic term that covers different cultures and tribes. Two Spirit people were valued in Native societies, held significant roles, and were integral parts of tribal social structures. For generations, Two Spirit Native culture went underground to avoid detection and persecution from western religion. Before 1978 Native Americans didn’t have the right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise their traditional religious rights and cultural practices (see American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 for more information on that), including the right to exist a Two Spirit person (it’s a cultural practice).
Note that the term “Two Spirit” is not culture-neutral; it only applies to Native individuals and should not be used to refer to non-Natives; please don’t be like Jason Mraz. He uses the term without understanding what it means. Also, note that not all Native LGBTQ+ folks are Two Spirit.
Thanks for reading! I hope that you found this information interesting and informative.