TWO-SPIRITED – LGBT Native Americans
“Two Spirit” is an aboriginal phrase (A direct translation of the Ojibwe term Niizh manidoowag) that refers to both masculine and feminine spirits simultaneously living in the same body. It is a term used by the native, indigenous, or aboriginal lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Within the various native or aboriginal populations (American Indian, Canadian Indian, Alaskan Native, Inuit, First Nations, and others), LGBT individuals often have difficulty overcoming the cultural taboos against homosexual behavior.
As a result of tribal community pressures, young people who have a different sexual orientation often grow up in a closeted existence or actual isolation. This imposed isolation is self-destructive and limits individuals from living to their fullest potential. In a school environment, many of these young people are subjected to bullying and harassment from their classmates. In this atmosphere, support is generally unavailable and creates an unsafe environment within the school. Nonetheless, there are exceptional gay students who somehow endure and who are accepted as equals by their peers. However, the majority of gay students exhibit behaviors such as skipping school, which affects their academic performance, or simply will become a run away from both home and school.
For the Native LGBT who seeks life in a city for anonymity, the experience can be far more negative than staying within their home community. Like most natives reared in a tribal community, Native LGBT retain pride in their identity, where they are from and who are their relatives. Living in a city can unfortunately give a sense of alienation that is both physical and emotional. Native LGBT individuals often grieve their separation from family and community when they are unaccepted in a city because of their lifestyle as well as being a Native. This experience results in a double discrimination for Native LGBT instead of the desired anonymity.