Reading List: Two-Spirit

Two-Spirit Books

Gay Soul: Finding the Heart of Gay Spirit and Nature with Sixteen Writers, Healers, Teachers, by Mark Thompson. Gay spirituality and sensibility come to light in these pages of striking portraits and trenchant interviews. Thompson brings out the unique contributions of the esteemed gay men – including Clyde Hall, Will Roscoe, Joseph Kramer, Harry Hay, James Broughton, Andrew Harvey, Paul Monette, Malcolm Boyd, and Ram Dass – who lead the spiritual life. Thompson elicits vivid musings on such provocative issues as the third gender, S&M, ritual as ‘holy fire’, and spirituality in the age of AIDS. His interviews call out the deepest emotions of each of these vibrant leaders who reveal, as never before, the spirit and the soul of the gay life. Rife with uncommon visions, Gay Soul is an excellent sourcebook of psychical constructions of queerness. A must read!

Living the Spirit, A Gay American Indian Anthology, Will Roscoe, Editor. Joining a reclaimed past to a vibrant present, this work provides a broad view of male and female homosexuality in Native American cultural history through anthropological reports, biography, mission records, photographs, oral literature, diaries, interviews, essays, autobiographical excerpts, poems, and selections from novels. In the past, individuals whose vision varied from tribal norms could adopt a variety of honorable roles: healer, artist, mediator, shaman. But homophobia still saturates the modern Indian world. Contemporary voices (notably Roscoe, Beth Brant, Paula Gunn Allen, Maurice Kenny, and Chrystos) explain and dramatize survival despite chronic and ritualized oppression. The book includes contacts, resources, a list of tribes, and a detailed bibliography. This is the 23rd year since the book was first published, it has served as and inspiration for many Native people and the establishment of Two Spirit groups in the US and Canada.

Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning, by Mark Thompson. Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning, now in a new second edition, broke ground when it first appeared in 1987, giving voice to an entire generation of gay men seeking alternative visions about the fundamental questions facing their lives. It was followed by two others, Gay Soul and Gay Body, creating a foundational trilogy that has helped shape a now international movement of spiritually aware gay men. In its deft weave of anthropology, history and sexual politics, Gay Spirit provides illuminating insight for all students of gender and religious studies. Arguably the book that started the Gay Men’s Spirituality Movement. “Gay Spirit is daring, which only proves its timeliness…it signals the opening of a new area of gay publishing, a field of spiritual exploration outside the context of religion or politics.” — The Advocate

Gay Spirituality: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness, by Toby Johnson. Toby Johnson’s thesis is that gays are very much “Outsiders” in American society, and because of that, gay people possess valuable knowledge and inspiration about the true nature of the Spirit. Gay people experience the world differently than others do, including being more aware of the polarities. Rather than exclusion from the world of God, religion, and spirituality, Johnson calls for all people to listen to and heed the wisdom gay people have to offer. Because human knowledge and understanding continues to grow, Johnson wants any person struggling with gay issues to know that we are in the middle of a huge transformation of human consciousness— a major paradigm shift. Because of this, there is much to learn and room for growth, all of which is likely to give anyone struggling with issues of the Spirit a fair amount of hope. Gay Spirituality challenges the reader with all the right questions, offering an invitation to plunge into the unknown. Gay men seeking to uncover their mysteries will find Gay Spirituality a source of brilliant intelligence and inspiration.

Two Flutes Playing: A Spiritual Journeybook for Gay Men, by Andrew Ramer. In a dizzying tumble of words about gay life that has left little uncovered, Andrew Ramer has something new to say. He does not rationalize, analyze, cheerlead or scold, but presents a simple vision so steeped in age-old wisdom that it appears more contemporary than tomorrow’s headlines. By writing as purely from the heart as he does, Ramer engages in timeless place within us–a place beyond damage and doubt, caution and guile. Plunging fearlessly into the truth as he sees it, Ramer can’t help but liberate readers from their own blinders about the saving grace of being queer.”We had many saints, many heroes, both female and male, but I want to speak here of the saints and heroes of the gay tribes. For this is a period of human history that has been lost through time, whose return is vitally needed. For you know the heroes of the other tribes. But of this small, sacred tribe, whose history has been obscured, you remember nothing.” Ramer serves as a mythologist for gay men, providing evidence to the harmony of gender, love and sex. A new introduction by the author reveals why this book’s timeless message has once more returned to print as the inaugural title from our friends at White Crane.

Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture, by Walter Williams. Walter L. Williams’s excellent research has produced one of the most extensive studies of the berdache culture among Native Americans. Unlike the larger American society, Native Americans historically have respected, and in many tribal nations venerated, homosexuals. Williams explains the berdache as a custom, its social roles, and the berdache history, including its introduction to the European concept of sin and intolerance of sexual diversity. The word berdache applies almost exclusively to males, mainly because historical records only relate dealings with aboriginal males, but Williams also includes a chapter on female sexual diversity, using the word amazon to describe these often warriorlike women. Many American Indian communities believed that some members belonged to an “alternative gender” neither male nor female, their identities determined by spiritual inclination, not sex. Berdaches were treated as sacred and held ceremonial roles as psychic healers, “medicine men” and prophets. 

Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America, by Will Roscoe. In many Native American tribal societies, it was not uncommon for some men to live as women and some women to live as men. In this land, the original America, men who wore women’s clothes and did women’s work became artists, ambassadors, and religious leaders, and women sometimes became warriors, hunters and even chiefs. Same-sex “marriages” flourished. Those individuals who combine male and female social roles with traits unique to their status as a third gender have been documented in more than 150 North American tribes. By looking at this aspect of non-Western culture, Roscoe challenges the basis of the dualistic way most Americans think about sexuality, and shakes the foundation of the way we understand and define gender. Will Roscoe makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of both Native American culture and alternative gender construction in this extension of the groundbreaking research in The Zuni Man-Woman. More than 150 tribes across America have members who engage in some form of gender identification beyond “male” and “female.” Roscoe’s study reveals how integral these third and fourth genders, and same-sex marriage, have been to the tribes’ societies, in contrast to the intolerance demonstrated by the Judeo-Christian culture of the descendants of European invaders.

The Cosmic Tribe Tarot, by Eric Ganther, Stevee Postman. Dancer Stevee Postman’s visionary work has developed a cult following in the tarot community. He has worked as a digital artist for over twentyteen years, and his images have graced the covers of Gnosis, Magical Blend, RFD, and other magazines.The Cosmic Tribe Tarot is the most revolutionary tarot deck to appear since Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot. Synthesizing classic archetypal imagery with state-of-the-art electronic wizardry, the Photoshop-god/goddess Stevee Postman has created a deck that maps the modern psyche like no other before. Drawing equally from nature, myth, psychedelics, and contemporary neopagan culture, The Cosmic Tribe Tarot speaks to the fears, hopes, and desires of a new generation. Without abandoning the traditional structure that has made the tarot a successful divination tool for centuries, Postman charges his deck with an Erotic, mystical energy, showing that the modern tribal movement is at heart a spiritual one. Never before has a tarot so boldly reconnected the contemporary soul to the eternal cosmos. [dark_divider]

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