June is LGBT Pride Month and although there are Two Spirit and LGBT members within Native communities, they are often apprehensive to come out. As the Indigenous Ways of Knowing Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling notes, family is important within Tribal communities, and “too often, rejection of Two Spirit / LGBT community members by families, peers, and the community breaks families apart and tears at the social fabric of our community.”
This year, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) wants to celebrate LGBT Pride Month by sharing some information on Two Spirit and LGBT Natives that are not only out and proud, but making a significant difference in their communities. GLSEN has a great article called Native American Heroes of the LGBT Community, so we wanted to share some of their information by highlighting two Native Elders that were included in the article:
During the 2018 election season, we have seen a significant increase in Natives running for political office. The Indian Country Today Media network shares that this election cycle has “more Native Americans running for Congress or to lead state governments than ever before.” One amazing Native woman who is already a politician and member of the Minnesota House of Representative is Susan Allen, who is Lakota and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
Susan was elected to the Minnesota House in 2012. Not only is Susan the first Native American woman to serve in the Minnesota Legislature, but she is also the first openly lesbian Native to win an election to a state legislature. During her time in the Legislature, she has also been a strong advocate for reducing discrimination and gaps in equality for Native people. You can learn more about Susan and her work on the Minnesota House of Representatives website.
Another amazing Native LGBT Elder is Chrystos, who self-identifies as an urban Indian, Menominee, and two-spirit. Chrystos is a self-educated writer and two-spirit activist, and has many awards and honors including, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Human Rights Freedom of Expression Award, the Sappho Award of Distinction from the Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a Barbara Deming Grant, and the Audre Lorde International Poetry Competition. Chrystos work focuses on fighting against injustices and for land and treaty rights for Native communities, dispelling Native stereotypes, and advocating for and empowering Natives to reconnect to their heritage and culture.
You can learn more about Chrystos on her Facebook page.
To learn more, please read GLSEN’s full article about more Native American Heroes of the LGBT Community. Happy Pride!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.