Two-Spirits

In light of the recent discussion regarding the differences between types of gay men, I thought I should present this article regarding Two-Spirits.  I’ve wondered from time to time myself about whether or not gay men actually DO serve a biological imperative, and have an evolutionary purpose.  Perhaps we are supposed to be the leaders, the teachers, or the caretakers, I’ve asked myself.  Oh, I know it’s pure theory and not a great one at that, but I am 1/4 Mohawk and it seems that certain Native American tribes, before the onset of European degradation of the Americas, may have entertained some of the very notions I was toying with. 

There were exceptions, of course, to the celebration of Two-Spirits, such as the Pimas of Arizona, but in most cases, Native American tribes, particularly the tribes of the Great Plains and the Southwest, were greatly admiring of their Two-Spirits. Among the Hopi and the Zuni of Arizona and New Mexico, these Two-Spirits held a special status. They were keepers of the ancient traditional stories of creation, healing and growth. But more than that, they were the keepers of the spiritual traditions, recognized for their special gift of being “between genders.”

Indeed, some tribes considered their Two-Spirits as being in the middle of a continuum of gender, not an abberation between two opposite genders as the western European model would have it. In this way, they were prescient of the view of many modern psychologists, who themselves are uncomfortable with the black/white, either/or gender identification of the European model.

By rejecting the dichotomous approach of the Europeans, the Native Americans who celebrated this diversity among themselves largely avoided the stigmatization of the members of their tribes that results when someone does not neatly fit within a dichotomous framework, but becomes seen as a “deviant” instead.

The veneration of the Two-Spirits was in no small part because of the realization that these people not only were different, but both the tribes and the Two-Spirits themselves understood their difference in spiritual terms – they were seen as prophets, men with mystical powers and the gift to see into two realms of the spirit at the same time – the realm of both men and women.

While I’ve never considered myself “feminine,” (actually, my few gay friends tell me I’m pretty butch) I am willing to at least consider the theory.  After all, Kinsey himself fairly well demonstrated that sexuality in humans is not black and white but rather a broad spectrum with all shades of gray.  And you can think I’m crazy as much as you like, but I’ve always been very spiritual/religious and I have had visions that have come true.  And that runs in my family.  (Scares people sometimes.)

So, really, who knows?

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2 thoughts on “Two-Spirits

  1. Hi Jamie, you know me from Homomojo as TBSLives. I’m glad to finally find my way here…

    Some of these Native American tribes may be onto something. There might very well be 4 genders, or perhaps even more than that.

    For example, it has always seemed odd to me that “effeminate” men are treated as if they’re simply women with male body parts. I think that’s a misleading label. I’ve never seen a woman act anything like an effeminate man. To the observant eye…the mannerisms are quite different, in fact.

    It seems highly probable that the binary limitations of our Western tradition dissuades us from considering possibilities other than man/woman. And thus, we may have missed out on the inherent complexities of gender.

  2. Hi John. I’m really glad you stopped by, and hope you continue to. The forums have been fairly listless of late and I just concentrate on my blog and some editorials for HM. As for your comment above, I couldn’t agree more.

    Don’t be a stranger!

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