‘Two Spirit’ Is Not An Interchangeable Term for ‘Gay’

“When attempting to explain the concept of Two Spirit people in Indian country, many people may visualize images of Unicorns and Rainbows, Donna Summers and Seventies disco balls. Try to explain the concept of Two Spirit outside Indian country, and you may as well throw in war bonnets and glitter. The term Two Spirit has been present in Native communities for countless generations that predate LGBTQ terminology.” T. Enos ICTMN

Tony Enos at Oceti Sakowin in front of the Two-Spirit Nation camp.

Excerpt: …Things You Should Know About Two Spirit People By Tony Enos, ICNM

For generations, Two Spirit Native culture went underground to avoid detection and persecution.Today the Two Spirit movement has been negatively affected by rumor, gossip, the tyranny of western religion, and an all-around lack of information.

Here are [some] misconceptions and/or things you should know about Two Spirit people that may help foster a better understanding of the Two Spirit community.

Two Spirit is not a contemporary ‘new-age’ movement-While the term Two Spirit was coined in 1990 In Winnipeg, Canada as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American/First Nations/Indigenous individuals, the term is not a specific definition of gender, sexual orientation or other self-determining catch-all phrase, but rather an umbrella term.

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder BY Ma-Nee Chacaby

Gay is not an interchangeable term with Two Spirit-Being a gay native is oftentimes confused with being Two Spirit. While the two may have parallels and intersections, they are not the same. Gay specifically is about attraction to a person of the same sex. Two Spirit is more about the embodiment of two genders residing within one person.

The Two Spirit Road is a road of long held traditions, prayer and responsibility-Living as a Two Spirit is not all pride parades and hot pants. To be of service to our elders and youth with our very particular medicine is paramount. If we lose our traditions, our songs, our medicines, and our languages, and make no effort to restore what was lost, we doom ourselves.

Two Spirits

Two Spirit people held significant roles and were an integral part of a tribal social structures-Two Spirit people held a meaningful place in the sacred hoop.  In many tribes Two Spirits were balance keepers.

Making Connections

Two Spirit is a term only appropriate for Native people-Two Spirit is a role that existed in a Native American/First Nations/Indigenous tribe for gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming tribal members.”

Category: Culture