“In the summer of 2019, at Minnesota’s Prairie Island Indian Community, photographer and filmmaker Tomás Karmelo Amaya took a portrait of a couple kissing while wearing colorful regalia. The couple, Nevada-based dancers Adrian Matthias Stevens and Sean Snyder, were visiting the reservation to dance in the Tinta Wita Wacipi powwow, a tradition that brought them together — and a tradition in which they are now making history.”J. Palumbo, CNN, February 3, 2021
Excerpt: The Native American couple redefining cultural norms — By Jacqui Palumbo, CNN, February 3, 2021
Stevens, who is of Northern Ute, Shoshone-Bannock and San Carlos Apache heritage; and Snyder, who is of Southern Ute and Navajo heritage, are a Two-Spirit couple that have been together for seven years. Within North American Indigenous communities, Two-Spirit refers to people who possess both masculine and feminine spirits, but it can also be used to represent LGBTQ+ Indigenous people more broadly.
‘It’s not biological, it’s spiritual, and it ties back to what I was taught growing up,’ Stevens told Vogue in 2020. ‘My aunties recognized me as a Two-Spirit individual way before I even recognized it.’
Through his images of the pair, Amaya shows their bond and the beauty of their movement. When Stevens and Snyder met, they were both dancers on Utah’s powwow circuit but it took years for them to perform couples routines — called ‘sweetheart specials’ — together.
That category was exclusively performed by male and female dancers until 2018, when they became the first Two-Spirit pair to do so, after being disqualified from a dance the year prior.
‘Because our styles are so different, we had to find a way to dance together,’Snyder is quoted as saying in Vogue. ‘And for us being two men, it was surprisingly difficult. You don’t grow up going to dances and learning to dance with another same-sex partner. We had to learn how to lead and how to take direction.’
Since then, their routines and matching regalia — each embellished with their own handmade beadwork — have brought them widespread attention.”
Celebrating Gay Pride Month:
Franklin Edward Kameny (May 21, 1925 – October 11, 2011) was an American gay rights activist. He has been referred to as “one of the most significant figures” in the American gay rights movement. n 1957, Kameny was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army‘s Army Map Service in Washington, D.C., because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin “a Herculean struggle with the American establishment” that would “spearhead a new period of militancy in the homosexual rights movement of the early 1960s”. Wikipedia