I spent my weekend in New York with my mother, brother, and brother's girlfriend. Before that, I spent all of Friday working on my map for the castle in my novel.
It was a fabulous weekend that I need to catch my sleep from.
So, you get the blog that I totally forgot to post on Friday because I had about 20 windows open of Scottish castles and castle floorplans and maps of southern Scotland. (I'll write about that later… along with my Adventures in NY.)
I was moved to tears [Thursday night].
The human being, human culture is so amazing and transformational – and so horrible and cruel.
I had the opportunity to join my husband for a joint program put on through the Raytheon American Indian Network (RAIN) and the Raytheon Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies (RGLBTA) showed the short documentary called Two Spirits about a transgendered and gay Navajo teen who was brutally murdered.
What made this such a powerful documentary is that despite the horror of the crime, there was a close look at the history of transgendered peoples within not only the Navajo tribes, but many others. These people are called People of Two Spirits, and they had specific and honored positions in society. Many of these people played important roles in negotiating for peace with the white politicians.
Many were also tortured for show, depending on which white conquerors they met.
The movie, itself, isn't without controversy among the Navajos, either. Many Navajos in Arizona felt the movie painted their culture poorly or incorrectly. I'm not sure how, though, admittedly, I'm not of that culture. Watching the movie gave me an impression of an accepting, beautiful, and spiritual culture.
In the center of this look at Navajo culture and history, of becoming aware of issues specific to "border towns" (where there are a lot of racial tensions, already – so throwing in tensions over sexuality is like throwing in flint that will eventually spark), was the individual. All the history, all the social stress, all of the cultural considerations were part of the teenager, Fred Martinez, featured in the documentary. It was a story about one person, and at the same time, many people.
I've been an active supporter of the GLBT community since my teens, and I had heard from my Native friends about the idea of "Two Spirits" before, and I am (sadly and furiously) aware of the heinous crimes committed against members of the community.
The one thing I felt this film covered better than any other I've seen is a look at the life of an individual, and the potential that person has.
Fred, who went by many names depending on his day (he preferred the masculine pronoun), had his moment of despair when he swallowed pills and called his friends and family for help. When he survived that moment, he changed. At any day he would be another aspect of himself. Some days he'd be FC, and dress in women's clothes with beautiful make-up. Other days he'd want to be Fred, and be undiscernable from pretty much any other teenage boy. Other days he was someone else – but they were all him. He was always true to who he was, and I'd say he was truer to himself than most people who dress the same and only embrace a part of who they are.
I feel that way. I've never identified as gender queer, though some days I definitely prefer to dress more masculine while other days I want ruffles and make-up. Also, some days I want to totally Goth myself up, so I do. Another day, I want to be a horse-crazy cowgirl.
Our personalities, who we are, is made up of many things. Everyone has different pieces of their identity, and we don't always honor all the pieces.
Fred did, and his fluidity in identity and gender is something that isn't addressed as often. One of the interviewees in the documentary said that different people in the GLBT community wanted to call him gay OR transgendered, when he could be a combination of those and more on any day. He wasn't just Gay or just Transgendered; he was Fred, or FC, or whoever he wanted to be for the day. And every aspect he wanted to show was who and what he was.
In general, I believe people – even those who identify as heterosexual and one particular gender – have fluid identities. And I believe that not honoring that natural fluidity of just being human is harmful to an individual. If more people could accept that no-one really is just one identity of one aspect, human beings and human culture would start living more emotionally, psychologically, and healthy lives.
If this interested you, at all, please check out the film, Two Spirits. More information about the film and Fred Martinez can be found at twospirits.org
I'm on a few different sexuality panels at Arisia in January, and I look forward to adding this dimension to what I already expect to be excellent discussions.
*Photos courtesy of twospirits.org