Updated: Oct 3, 2019
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Historical Review of the Two-Spirited, "Faggots" and various Witch Trials
(Two -Spirit Information provided by https://courses.lumenlearning.com/culturalanthropology/chapter/two-spirit/ )
Two-Spirit (also two spirit or twospirit) is a modern umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans to describe gender-variant individuals in their communities. The term was adopted in 1990 at an Indigenous lesbian and gay international gathering to encourage the replacement of the anthropological term berdache. It is a spiritual role that is recognized and confirmed by the Two-Spirit’s indigenous community. While some have found the term a useful tool for intertribal organizing, not all Native cultures conceptualize gender this way, and most tribes use names in their own languages. While pan-Indian terms are not always appropriate or welcome, the term has generally received more acceptance and use than the term it replaced.
Third and fourth gender roles traditionally embodied by two-spirit people include performing work and wearing clothing associated with both men and women. Not all tribes/nations have rigid gender roles, but, among those that do, some consider there to be at least four genders: feminine woman, masculine woman, feminine man, masculine man. The presence of male-bodied two-spirits “was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples” and, according to Will Roscoe, both male- and female-bodied two-spirits have been documented “in over 130 North American tribes, in every region of the continent.”
Definition and historic societal role
Two-spirit individuals are viewed in some tribes as having two identities occupying one body. Their dress is usually a mixture of traditionally male and traditionally female articles, or they may dress as a man one day, and a woman on another. According to Dr. Sabine Lang, a German anthropologist, many tribes have distinct gender and social roles. Some specific roles sometimes held by male assigned at birth two-spirits include:
Detail from Dance to the Berdashe by George Catlin.
conveyors of oral traditions and songs (Yuki);foretellers of the future (Winnebago, Oglala Lakota);conferrers of lucky names on children or adults (Oglala Lakota, Tohono O’odham);potters (Zuni, Navajo, Tohono O’odham);matchmakers (Cheyenne, Omaha, Oglala Lakota);makers of feather regalia for dances (Maidu);special role players in the Sun Dance (Crow, Hidatsa, Oglala Lakota).
Some studies of two spirit identities among biological males explain them as a “form of social failure, women-men are seen as individuals who are not in a position to adapt themselves to the masculine role prescribed by their culture” and that two-spirit people lost masculine power socially, so they took on female social roles to climb back up the social ladder within the tribe. However, Lang argues that the problem with the “failure” approach “probably lies, inter alia, in the fact that the women-men’s ambivalence in both role and status is over-looked”. Lang disputes a supposed example of women being considered inferior to men in Lakota society from R. B. Hassrick’s studies:
"That Lakota men did not like to be called “heart of a woman” in council meetings (Hassrick 1989:133) is less likely to mean that women were regarded as inferior than that the warrior’s role was sharply set off from the woman’s role (see DeMallie 1983): a warrior clearly held the status of “man”. Because the Lakota winkte (upon whom Hassrick’s interpretations are based) were culturally defined as “non-men”, the norms valid for the masculine role were therefore not applied to them."
Lang later says “men made to wear women’s clothes for the purposes of humiliation are everywhere … distinguished from women-men”.
Cross dressing of two-spirit people was not always an indicator of gender identity. Lang believes “the mere fact that a male wears women’s clothing does not say something about his role behavior, his gender status, or even his choice of partner…”
Male-bodied two-spirit people, regardless of gender identification, can go to war and have access to male activities such as male-only sweat lodge ceremonies. However, they may also take on “feminine” activities such as cooking and other domestic responsibilities. Two-spirits might have relationships with people of either sex. According to Lang, female assigned at birth two-spirits usually have sexual relations or marriages with only females.
Partners of two-spirits do not receive any special recognition, although some believed that after having sexual relations with a two-spirit they would obtain magical abilities, be given obscene nicknames by the two-spirited person which they believed held “good luck,” or in the case of male partners, receive a boost to their masculinity. Examples of sexual relationships between two-spirited individuals are absent in the historical literature (with the sole exception of the Tewa tribe), yet are a common occurrence in contemporary two-spirit communities. As male assigned at birth two-spirits often regarded each other as “sisters,” Lang has speculated that it may have been seen as incestuous to have a relationship with another two-spirit.
In most tribes a relationship between a two-spirit and non-two-spirit was seen for the most part as neither heterosexual nor homosexual (in modern-day terms) but more hetero-normative; European colonists, however, saw such relationships as homosexual. Partners of two-spirits have not historically viewed themselves as homosexual, and moreover drew a sharp conceptual line between themselves and two-spirits.
Although two-spirits have been both respected and feared in many tribes, the two-spirit is not beyond being reproached or even killed for bad deeds. In the Mojave tribe, for instance, two-spirits frequently become medicine persons and, like all who deal with the supernatural, are at risk of suspicion of witchcraft, notable in cases of failed harvest or of death. There have been instances of murder in these cases (such as the female assigned at birth two-spirit named Sahaykwisā). Another instance in the late 1840s was of a Crow male assigned at birth two-spirit who was caught, possibly raiding horses, by the Lakota and was killed.
According to some reports there had never been an alternative gender identity among the Comanche. This is true of some Apache bands as well, except for the Lipan, Chiricahua, Mescalero, and southern Dilzhe’e. One tribe in particular, the Eyak, has a single report from 1938 that they did not have an alternative gender and they held such individuals in low esteem, although whether this sentiment is the result of acculturation or not is unknown. Williams wrote that the Iroquois do not have a specific role for gender-variant individuals, although there is a single report from Bacqueville de la Potherie in his book published in 1722, Histoire de l’Amérique septentrionale, that indicates that an alternative gender identity existed among them. Many, if not all, tribes have been influenced by European homophobia/transphobia.
Some sources have reported that the Aztecs and Incas had laws against such individuals, though there are some authors who feel that this was exaggerated or the result of acculturation, because all of the documents indicating this are post-conquest and any that existed before had been destroyed by the Spanish. The belief that these laws existed, at least for the Aztecs, comes from the Florentine Codex. According to Dr Nancy Fitch, Professor of History at California State University, Fullerton,
"There is evidence that indigenous peoples authored many codices, but the Spaniards destroyed most of them in their attempt to eradicate ancient beliefs. … The Florentine Codex is unquestionably a troubling primary source. Natives writing in Nahuatl under the supervision of the Spanish Fray Bernardino de Sahagúnapparently produced the manuscript in the 1500s. The facts of its production raise serious questions about whether the manuscript represents the vision of the vanquished or of the colonizers … colonization of the natives’ minds loomed large in the Spanish project … To make matters worse, while it appears that the original manuscript was completed in Nahuatl some time around 1555, no evidence of it remains. Authorities in New Spain confiscated his manuscripts in 1575, and at various times, the Spanish monarchy ordered him to stop his work. The earliest known version of the manuscript is, thus, Sahagún’s summary of it written in Spanish. In 1585, he published a revised version of the codex, which, he argued, corrected some errors and integrated some things ignored in his earlier summary. Sahagún’s revised version is the manuscript commonly known as the Florentine Codex. — NANCY FITCH, THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY"
Ones journey could be their death sentence...
Etymology of "Faggots"
Although there are many stories which derived on how the word faggot actually became derogatory the most common tale starts in the mid-1600's, on the British Isle and the the colonies, when a "society deemed" older women was being "crutchity" towards others. The term is speculated to have started a contrast throughout time since then. The predominant time when the word began being used was in the 1900's, which again there is common debate on the creation and true cause. .
To be clear, this is not a discussion as to why the name came about, but the hidden meaning most people do not truly know. There are multiple times in the LGBT history when men and women of differing sexual orientation or identity were persecuted due to "moral law" which in most of these time was created by the same type of heteronormative upper class. This was quite common during the "Victorian Era", Spanish Inquisition, as well as the famous "Witch Hunts" we hear tale about throughout the centuries. Yes, this includes the "Salem Witch Trials".
No matter what time period is discussed, many heretics, "social indecent", and "societal deviants" who were not attached to the societal norms of the time were "disciplined" by their peers or community, as they saw fit. The most common way of sentencing those who were deviated from the social norm was to "burn them at the stake".
Other common ways to "discipline" those deemed to be social pariahs were being "dipped" in water with rocks tied t their ankles, hanged from a branch of a tree, and in modern times, stoned to death. These acts of violence are still used all over the world. In areas of Asia and the Middle East, people are burned at the stake for being gay. Some areas use the old fashion "hanging tree". Women in these areas who have identified as different are commonly rapped then stoned to death.
Other forms of persecution were "castration by use of hot poker between the thighs", "purification" by use of boiling water, and placing the individual who has been found guilty of "same sex" crimes into hot boiling tar or oil.
According to some Wikipedia articles, the practice of "burning gays at the stake" or "perc of social deviants" goes as far back as the 500 CE ( CE for Common Era is a modern alternative for AD, meaning Anno Domini). Click here for further information.
It seems over the years that history continues to repeat itself over and over again. The different are heretics, and the heteronormative are the blessed. The fact of the matter is people who are LGBT have existed throughout all times in history, however, the majority of historians in the past have been those of a specific type of socio-economics, or class.
It has only been in recent years where people of color, people who have identified as different, and remarkable women who were strong and made our communities stronger have just entered into the history books of our education institutions. People like Alan Turing, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Lorraine Hansberry, Bayard Rustin, Sir Francis Bacon, S. Josephine Baker, just to name a few, were never mentioned to me by any of my history professors or text books growing up. Each of these great human being contributed in ways that changed the way we think about civil rights, medicine, art, etc.
The sad part is each of these individuals were ostracized in one way or another, even though their contributions to society were outstanding, their identity of being "LGBT" was the only strike they needed for society to turn against them. For example, even though Alan Turing was able to crack the code of the NAZI's during WW2, he was identified as a homosexual by local "law enforcement" in the United Kingdom and was castrated. He was also found dead a few years later, with pronounced mystery as to whether he was murdered or if he commited suicide.
Internationally, people are still criminalized for being simply who they are. In the middle East, it is noted that many are either hung, or burned to death. Women who are LGBT are noted as being stoned to death and often timed raped prior to their death sentence. I could go on and on about the history of persecution of the LGBT community.
My mission in life to be the voice for many who had their voices taken away
This is my inspiration
This is my "Journey to the Rainbow's End".
Thank you for stopping by today and joining me for the