The term is meant specifically for Native and Indigenous people whose gender identity encompasses both male and female energies. Many Native communities historically celebrated Two-Spirit individuals, but a patriarchal society and the evangelical spread of religion through colonization erased the way many cultures honored the multitudes of sexual and gender identities and expressions.
An Indigenous person doesn’t have to be a member of the LGBTQ community to identify as Two-Spirit. I do it as a way to reclaim and preserve my culture and traditions because I’ve faced so much erasure as a bisexual demisexual in today’s society, and I find strength knowing my ancestors would have celebrated me just as I am.
I long hid it from my family, but my oldest and closest friends have always known. The biggest misconceptions I’ve heard from friends and potential romantic partners is that bisexuals are greedy, hypersexual, indecisive, unfaithful, or that it’s just a phase. That couldn’t be further from the truth for me. I knew I was bisexual as a young girl, and yet, the demisexual part of me means I’m more often than not, asexual. But also, just because an individual can love or be sexually attracted to a variety of gender expressions doesn’t mean they are automatically more promiscuous than the next person. That’s just a ridiculous stereotype that needs to be done away with.
I’ve celebrated myself as Two-Spirit in my community for many years, but I was reluctant to come out to family because of the painful comments they’d make that would seem harmless to an outsider. Those words instilled fear in me that they wouldn’t accept me. I almost came out to them when I was in a relationship with a woman, but I thought – maybe I’ll end up with a man and never have to tell them. But that thinking stunted my personal growth as an authentic artist and human being. The same way I can’t deny who I am and just ‘pick one’ for the rest of my life for a romantic partner who gives me an ultimatum, I couldn’t keep limiting myself and denying my heart to save face for family either.
I finally came out to them just last year. I’d been laying hints and exposing them to more inclusive stories in the arts and the media. I needed to find a way to tell them, and my sister-in-law was the impetus. We were discussing the need for accuracy in media representation as a way to combat gross generalizations surrounding many cultures. The topic landed on sexuality, and I told her how erased I felt and how ridiculous it is that I couldn’t bring myself to come out to my family. I then told my niece, who shared with me how many kids were out in her high school, and that made me so happy. The day came when the opportunity presented itself, and my family was so loving and accepting. It’s given me more strength to keep challenging the stereotypes and help others embrace their identities to put an end to bi-erasure.
To my younger self,
You can do it. Don’t wait. Work on yourself and don’t run away. Heal your traumas. You’ll have so much more time to be 100% free and 100% you. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to embrace your individuality.
Be proud. Be fierce. Be YOU.
Contributed by Free2Luv Advocate, actress, filmmaker, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Carolina Hoyos @agirliknow