June is widely known as LGBTQ+ Pride Month (formerly known as Gay Pride). This celebration has continued to evolve over the years, adding more voices from various subcommunities within the greater Queer umbrella. For the purposes of this article, I will be using the labels Queer, for simplicity, and 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and more) to affirm a wider representation.
In its origin, Pride began as a protest and riot, rooted in the fight against 2SLGBTQIA+ oppression. In 1969, the era of Stonewall, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Trans women and Lesbians laid the groundwork for the Queer liberation we see today. These women fought tooth and nail for their right to exist. Women such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Stormé DeLarverie, and so many other 2SLGBTQIA+ people, were often incarcerated, and beaten for being different, not following gender norms, and loving who they wanted. Pride evolved from a riot into a demonstration and celebration of the diversity within the community and has been a staple in raising awareness over 2SLGBTQIA+ legislative and social issues affecting the rights and well-being of the community.
Promotional advertisements for our local Pride events have been plastered all over Sacramento. This year’s Sac Pride was held this past weekend on June 10th and 11th. It consisted of vendor and information booths along the Capitol Mall stretch, performances and showcases by Queer artists on two main stages, and a pride march/parade on the last day of the festival. Our Sacramento Pride Festival has been commemorated since 1979. It is hosted by our neighbors at the LGBT+ Community Center and on their website, they state the following; “Our mission is to create a region where LGBTQ+ people thrive. We work to support the health and wellness of the most marginalized, advocate for equity and justice, and build a culturally rich LGBTQ+ community. Pride is our largest community engagement event of the year, gathering more than 20,000 people throughout the weekend to celebrate LGBTQ+ arts, culture, and activism” (sacramentopride.org).
All month long there are scheduled events related to Pride such as Pride at the Sofia that happened on June 11th, a forum featuring the B Street Theater, the Sacramento Contemporary Dance Theater, and Teatro Nagual to name a few. Less Hate More Pride on June 17th features 20+ vendors, two live DJs, and a Drag Show. Additionally, a family-friendly Pride event at the Sacramento Children’s Museum on June 24th with Leo & Friends. More information can be found on all events at https://sacramentopride.org/community/.
Here at SNAHC we take part in the Pride festival every year. As an inclusive health center, we offer gender affirming care, hormone therapy, and have offered a Two Spirit Talking Circle which are currently on hiatus. “The Native community recognizes and honors LGBTQ people as “Two Spirit,” and it is part of SNAHC’s tradition to be a welcoming environment for all sexual orientations and gender identities. SNAHC provides excellent, comprehensive health care for transgender patients at all stages of transition. SNAHC realizes that the total care of transgender patients is not dependent upon good medical care, but the need to create a “safe harbor” by creating an understanding and welcoming environment” (snahc.org/specialty/).
In Native communities, Two-Spirit can be described as an umbrella term created by and for Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island (North America) who identify as having BOTH a masculine and a feminine spirit to describe their diverse sexualities, gender identities, roles, and expressions. As an umbrella term, it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, or who have multiple gender identities. It can also be described as a community organizing strategy or tool and a way to describe oneself. A way for Indigenous Peoples to reconnect with traditional languages, ways, and cultures within a pre-Colonial setting. It is also meant to facilitate Indigenous Peoples’ connections with Native Nation-specific expressions and roles of gender and sexual diversity.
It is important to remember that historically, many Indigenous People had more than two genders. Individuals were considered a 3rd (in some cases, 4th or 5th) gender, accepted & revered for their unique abilities and contributions to their tribal communities, e.g., mediator, medicine people, social worker, warriors, etc. Historically, tribal communities had their own traditional terms to describe gender variance. In 2020, research found 130 Nation-specific terms. Two-Spirit does not replace the traditional terms. Some tribal members may identify with their traditional terms rather than Two-Spirit or use both. Two-Spirit can also be viewed as an expression of sexual orientation and as such, may or may not equate to an Indigenous LGBTQ+ person. It depends on the individual and the context if they want to identify with Two-Spirit as a sexual orientation. Not every Indigenous LGBTQA+ person will identify with Two-Spirit and many Indigenous languages do not have traditional terms to describe sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Many Indigenous languages are verb-focused and describe what people do rather than how they identify, i.e., Tudayapi – Dress like other sex.