Hip-hop artist embraces both masculine and feminine sides
Gabriel Guiboche — better known as Strife Asaakeezis — has a strong, masculine presence in the world of hip-hop. But at the beginning of June he took a bold step by coming out as two-spirited.
Two-spirit is an Indigenous term used to describe a person with both masculine and feminine qualities.
Guiboche posted a picture on social media of himself dressed as a female, announcing to the world that this was part of who he was.
As a performer, he has established a reputation of fearlessness.
"But this scared me to the core, to come out in the open, and to be me in public," Guiboche said.
"I don't want to let my fans down, who have grown with me through my music. And it hasn't always been positive, so I want to have a positive impact on everybody around me and make my choices responsibly," said Guiboche, who performs with the group Voice of Thunder.
As a child, Guiboche identified as female. He adopted the name Abigail and wore his hair in a ponytail. As he got older, he adopted a more masculine identity to better fit in with his family.
"I see all the ridicule that people I've grown up with face, just because they're gay, or bisexual, or even two-spirited. I still get stared at when I'm male, and people judge me anyways. Like I'm a criminal, or I'm going to rob them."
This feminine side resurfaced after Guiboche met his wife, poet and singer Mary Black.
"She's been really accepting of me as a whole person. Recently, we discovered that we're both two-spirited. She gives me the strength to be myself without any judgement."
But not everyone was as accepting of Guiboche's revelation.
"I've also faced a lot of negative ridicule that people haven't seen. From people I care about as well," he said.
Guiboche wants to see a resurgence in the way two-spirited people were seen and accepted as medicine people historically.
"I want people to ... regain the knowledge we had in the past before assimilation."