I first realized that indigenous cultures had names and a place for their gender and sexual non-conforming persons when I came across the book Gay Soul by Mark Thompson. The book is broken up into several interviews with leaders in the queer spiritual movement. Many of them talk about the LGBTQ roles within cultures either historically or in modern times. I left that book with the realization that my community had a history that was much deeper and more complex than I had been led to believe.
I began to read everything that I could find on First Nations traditions of queer people, how they were viewed, what their roles were, what their experiences were. Why had they been stopped? What had happened that First Nations peoples had forgotten long standing traditions that many times they saw as sacred and vital to their communities.
The answer is pretty obvious; once the colonization and white washing of native people began their queer traditions, truly almost all of their traditions, were slowly stripped from them and demeaned as unnatural or unchristian.
My research began to bare fruit and I soon began to find that queer traditions had existed in numerous other cultures, within in other ethnic groups, and on opposite continents, and were viewed very similarly across these traditions regardless of their known interactions with one another.
I began to experience a shift within my own psyche. I had been led to believe that though queer persons had existed for the entirety of human history, it was only now that we were capturing status and equality. I did not realize that there were societies and nations that had seen their queer persons as vital members of the community. I did not realize that we were honored and sought out for our specific type of help that only we could offer.
I began to experience deep levels of acceptance within my own being- and a striking humility and pride about who I was.
It is an incredibly healing, and profound, state of mind to come to; to realize that you have an ancestral lineage of queer dead that lived proud and well lives. My work tapping into that river of power has been one of the most rewarding and challenging journeys of my life thus far.
I began to realize that it was my queer-ness that connected me to the world, and that my queer-ness was not simply a by product of epi-genetics. I began to see, and experience, that Nature itself had bore me into the world in all of my queer-ness, in all of my other-ness, in all of my shifting, so that I might offer a particular medicine and myth to the world.
I began to experience the evolution of my own story; I began to see my coming into the world, and the diffciculty of being queer in modern society, as an amulet of power and transformation. Harry Hay says it best,
“When we begin to love and respect Great Mother Nature’s gift to us of gayness, we’ll discover that the bondage of our childhood and adolescence in the trials and tribulations of neitherness was actually an apprenticeship for teaching her children new cutting edges of consciousness and social change. In stunning paradox, our neitherness is our talisman, our fairie wand, our gift we bring to the hetero world to….transform their pain into healings; …transform their tears to laughter: …transform their hand-me-downs to visions of loveliness.”
A Quest Begins…
..and thus my archetypal heroes journey; the quest to have deep and profound relationship to my queer ancestors. Those who have gone on before me, who remember a time when being other was not a demerit, but a claim to a lineage and practice. Because I am not native, and their are none among my nations who remember, my practice has become a fusion of wisdom from other cultures, of using terminology left to us by those like Hay, and Clyde Hall, and Mark Thompson, and becoming quiet enough to hear the guidance of the beloveds on the other side.
May the work not be only for me, nor in vain, but for the healing of others.