Gay and transgender Native Americans find acceptance in tradition
by John Rosengren
He checks his plaid skirt, stockings, and deep-cut white blouse. When another man’s eyes fall on his cleavage, Richard squeezes his breasts together and answers the silent inquiry: “They’re real!”
Beyond the bathroom doors, men and women dance around a drum in more traditional costume—feathers, fox pelts, moccasins, beads, and bells. They’re all here for the 20th annual International Two Spirit Gathering, a celebration of and for those who feel they carry both male and female spirits.
In late August 2008, some 85 Native lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people from three dozen tribes in Canada and the United States traveled to the Audubon Center of the North Woods, 90 miles north of Minneapolis.