by Will Roscoe
St. Martin's Griffin
Gay American Indians are active members of both the American Indian and gay communities. But our voices have not been heard. To end this silence, GAI is publishing Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology.
Living the Spirit honors the past and present life of gay American Indians. This book is not just about gay American Indians, it is by gay Indians. Over twenty different American Indian writers, men and women, represent tribes from every part of North America.
Living the Spirit tells our story---the story of our history and traditions, as well as the realities and challenges of the present.
As Paula Gunn Allen writes, "Some like Indians endure." The themes of change and continuity are a part of every contribution in this book---in the contemporary coyote tales by Daniel-Harry Steward and Beth Brant---in the reservation experiences of Jerry, a Hupa Indian---in the painful memories of cruelty and injustice that Beth Brant, Chrystos, and others evoke. Our pain, but also our joy, our love, and our sexuality, are all here, in these pages. M. Owlfeather writes, "If traditions have been lost, then new ones should be borrowed from other tribes," and he uses the example of the Indian pow-wow---Indian, yet contemporary and pantribal.
One of our traditional roles was that of the "go-between"---individuals who could help different groups communicate with each other. This is the role GAI hopes to play today. We are advocates for not only gay but American Indian concerns, as well. We are turning double oppression into double continuity---the chance to build bridges between communities, to create a place for gay Indians in both of the worlds we live in, to honor our past and secure our future.
Published by Stonewall Inn Editions in partnership with St. Martin's Press, 1988.
This study of Indian History is doubly liberating, providing a sense that gays were once highly valued in many tribes and supplying a view of Native American social structure as highly developed, environmentally sensitive, and one from which we could learn much. If we ignore the lessons in Living the Spirit, we do so at our own peril. - Lambda Rising Book Report
Living the Spirit is one of the most exciting books I've held in my hands since Another Mother Tongue. It reclaims for all of us the rich and diverse gay tradition in many tribes, the important roles reserved for gay women and men, and the gay contribution to traditional life. - Feminist Bookstore News
About the Author:
Will Roscoe has been active in the the gay movement since 1975, when he helped found Lambda, the first gay/lesbian organization in Montana. He worked with Harvey Milk in the No on 6 campaign against the Briggs Initiative. He worked closely with the group Gay American Indians (GAI) on issues around the meaning of the term berdache and served as coordinating editor for the GAI's collection of nonfiction essays and short stories, Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology. Roscoe's first book, The Zuni Man-Woman, won the Lambda Literary Award for gay men's nonfiction and the Margaret Mead Award. In 2003, he received a Monette-Horwitz Achievement Award for research and scholarship combating homophobia.