Celebrating the two-spirit community

As Pride month winds down, Unreserved celebrates the two-spirit community.
Rainbow flag flies during Pride Week. LGBTQ youth and adults want more medical professionals who are educated on their healthcare needs. (The Canadian Press)

by Rosanna Deerchild 

I always knew I was different.

As a wee Deerchild l preferred toy cars over dolls. As a rebel without a cause teen I dressed in men's shirts and ties and rejected makeup.

Most of my friends were boys, and in college I would blush and stammer every time a certain woman spoke to me.

But I never gave it much thought. Being a brown girl in a racist town was hard enough, and I focused on simply getting out alive.

It wasn't until I was 25 that I realized why I was so different. It struck me like a lightning bolt. I am a two-spirit bisexual woman.

For me, it was a hard truth. I raged against my sexuality. Mourned what I imagined was an easy hetero romance with 2½ kids and a dog. Tried to convince myself that this was a phase or an illness that I could change. Struggled with telling friends and family.

But I did not change. No therapy, ceremony or prayer could "cure" me, because there is nothing wrong with me.

Eventually I accepted that. Then as I learned more, have come to love who I am. I am just how Creator made me. And now I carry all of who I am with Pride.

This week on Radio Indigenous: we celebrate our two-spirit community.

Jack Saddleback (front) in studio with Unreserved host Rosanna Deerchild. (Jack Saddleback)
At just 27 years old, Jack Saddleback knows what it's like to carry a number of different identities on his shoulders. He's Cree. He's two-spirit. And he's a transgender gay man. But his story begins on Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta, where he was raised. 

Shortly after midnight on June 12th, Senator Murray Sinclair and his family were celebrating his daughter's 33rd birthday. That same night 49 young men and women were shot and killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando during Pride month celebrations. This hit home for Senator Sinclair because his daughter is openly gay. The next day, after a moment of silence, he rose in the Red Chamber and spoke.

James Harper (left) and Kyle Ross at the United Nations. (courtesy James Harper and Kyle Ross)
James Harper is from Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Northern Alberta and Kyle Ross is from Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. They recently paid a memorable visit to the United Nations.

Gabriel Guiboche (Facebook)
Gabriel Guiboche is also known as hip hop artist Strife Asaakeezis. He has presented as a very masculine personality in the world of hip hop. But recently he took an incredibly brave step forward and came out as two-spirit. 
And he didn't do it quietly. Guiboche posted photos of himself on Facebook as his female identity. 

From the trapline to the the front line of HIV/AIDS awareness, marriage to parenting and finally as a two-spirit elder living her truth out loud. Manee Chacaby's book is called A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder. She'll explain how acceptance of two-spirit people has changed. 

Digging Roots (Digging Roots)
This week's Playlist
Digging Roots - AK-47
Christa Couture - The Slaughter