Research reveals strong cultural acceptance in the past
By Paul Galinski | firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 4:19 PM CST
Research shows historically, diffuse gender identification was a celebrated component of first nations culture, according to a Powell River researcher. However, Western contact swayed the positive recognition and has contributed to two-spirited people being ostracized as homosexual people, he added.
Michael Thoms, who has a doctorate in history and teaches history at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Powell River campus, said one of his specialties is ethno-history, “which is a fancy way of saying specialized in fields of first nations cultural, ecological and social relationships,” he said.
“For 15 years I’ve been a researcher for a group called two-spirited people of the first nations, and also for the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network.
“One of the problems, as we know, is first nations people are marginalized in society,” Thoms said. “They experience issues with poverty, poor self-esteem, lack of advanced education and these kinds of things. One group within first nations society that is particularly vulnerable are those that we in the West would call gay or lesbian.”
Thoms said first nations people have a tradition that predates contact with the West.