By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
The second annual Queer Heroes NW, a collaboration between the Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN) and Q Center, recognizes local LGBTQ leaders based on nominations from community members. On June 15, it honored Amanda Brings Plenty-Wright, founder of the Portland Two-Spirit Society.
Here’s how Queer Heroes NW describes the activist’s contributions:
Homophobia is not native to the Americas – it arrived with European conquerors. Before that time, native cultures revered their LGBTQ people, calling them “Two Spirits” because they embodied both masculine and feminine energies. Two Spirit people were identified while very young, and prepared for special roles in society: ambassadors, teachers, healers, artists, war chiefs, keepers of the sacred.
Missionaries brought homophobia. Two Spirit people were killed because they were considered abominations, and the tradition was driven underground.
Amanda Brings Plenty-Wright (Klamath/Modoc) is the founder of the Portland Two-Spirit Society (PTSS). She is among native leaders nationally who are reviving the Two Spirit tradition. Amanda says although it was scary at first, overall she has found acceptance and respect while working against homophobia in the Native community.
PTSS was formed in May 2012 as a social group for Two Spirits, but has since taken on a cultural and educational role. The group recently joined forces with 2SY, the Two Spirit Youth group run by the Native American Rehabilitation Association, and is developing a youth curriculum and tool kit including coming out stories and cultural workshops.
PTSS is available to speak to groups desiring more information about Two Spirit history and Two Spirit youth.
A new queer hero will be revealed online each day in June. All the honorees will be featured in a poster exhibit at Q Center’s Aaron Hall Gallery during June and July. You can see last year’s honorees here.