The liberation movement of Aboriginal and Native American/Alaska Native gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (GLBT) began in 1988. The movement is founded in sobriety and works to empower Two Spirit/GLBT indigenous peoples across the Americas. During the 1970’s and 80’s very few Two Spirit people were involved in the broader GLBT liberation movement where there was only a hint of recognition and inclusion of indigenous issues (eg. the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, October 11, 1987).
By the mid-80’s alcohol and drugs had become a barrier to Two Spirit people as they sought to reclaim their histories and cultural identities. The 1988 gathering, The Basket and the Bow: A Gathering of Lesbian & Gay Native Americans, was the first one where alcohol and drug use was prohibited as participants chose to follow ceremonial protocols during their deliberations. The movement broadened its activities to include sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies, sharing circles, elders and a pow-wow. Organizers moved the gathering from urban centres to woodland sites in order to create culturally appropriate and safe environments.
Two-Spirit drum group at “Gakina Awiiyaa - We Are All Related,” the Red River College's welcoming ceremony for Two-Spirit people, held on International Day Against Homophobia, May 17, 2012.
(Photo Aaron Pierre)