Three visual artists share their visions of Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ liberation.
To me, Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ liberation means taking up space, resisting and speaking back to the monolith, to colonization. As many harmful ideas of gender and sexuality come directly from the effects colonization has had on us as Indigenous peoples, another important part of liberation is investigating who we are as Indigenous queer femmes, uplifting the intersections that make up Indigenous queer identities, and speaking for community while also ensuring our own perspectives and ideas are respected. Building communities of care, kinship and family is very important to me, and connecting with other Indigiqueer kin is super special and life changing. Lastly, liberation means placing importance on futurity and joy, taking up space with celebrations of sovereign queer Native people, and recognizing that we are leaders who have been at the forefront of our collective queer histories.
– Natalie King, 27, Timiskaming First Nation
I am a Two-Spirit Indigenous genderfluid asexual person who represents my culture through visual art. I constantly draw Two-Spirit couples in traditional attire and modern regalia. The couple I have drawn for the Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ blog is an Indigenous lesbian couple celebrating their marriage. Marriage for Two-Spirit LGBTQ people is not legalized for every Indigenous nation. This art is my hope for a future when every Two-Spirit person can marry on their homelands if they so choose. When Indigenous people see my art I hope they feel loved and accepted and that love helps their people understand that without colonialism, LGBTQ people would be accepted in Indigenous society without question. Two-Spirit people have always existed and will continue to do so. I want future Native youth to see art like mine and experience the sensation of joy that whoever they love will be accepted. That they are loved and accepted for who they are and they can celebrate that love proudly.
– Marina McDermott, 24, Blackfeet and Cree
I see Two Spirit liberation as radical self-love and acceptance of yourself and your gender/sexuality. As a transmasc Two Spirit nonbinary lesbian, gender and self-love are things I’ve always struggled with. I feel like a woman, but only to a certain degree. Finding a balance between decolonial masculinity and femininity that focuses on empowering yourself and isn’t catered to the male gaze (or anyone’s gaze for that matter) is something I think a lot of Natives struggle with. We have to relearn and unlearn what’s healthy and what’s colonial trauma that needs TLC & healing. I know that many Indigenous women, regardless of who they are attracted to, have struggled with their sexuality at some point in their lives due to MMIW and trauma. It becomes frustrating to exist as a woman-aligned/feminine Native person when colonial fetishization puts us at risk. For Indigenous people, self-love, empowerment and taking up space is radical act. Existing as yourself, unabashedly Indigenous, in a world that’s tried to extinguish you is radical and brave. Even when our voices shake, speaking out is the bravest thing we can do for ourselves. Telling the world,“I am here and I matter!!” Here I depict a transmasc, Two Spirit superhero displaying both their energies in a way that only Natives could understand. A lot of things that are considered masculine or feminine in colonial society are gender-neutral to Natives. Things like long hair and earrings are androgynous to us. Because of this, many Two Spirit people like myself can feel alienated by non-Native people in the LGBTQ+ community. And since so many Natives love superheroes, I thought it would be perfect to display a Two Spirit superhero: Confident. Proud. Empowered. Androgynous. Indigenous…. Ready to take on the world!!
– Bridgette Romero, 22, Guerrero-Nahua (Mexikah)