Interview with new Tucson Native LGBT/Two-Spirit Group

Interview with new Tucson Native LGBT/Two-Spirit Group

ByLouva Hartwell
Edited by Miko Thomas
NativeOUT News

Tucson — The Tucson/Southern Arizona area will soon have their own Native LGBT/Two-Spirit group. Jeanette Long, a Navajo lesbian, began searching to participate in a Two-Spirit group only a year ago.

When she found NativeOUT, a Phoenix-metro LGBT/Two-Spirit group, she said, “I have always wanted to find a Native group of LGBTs and when I heard of your organization I was excited.” For a year, Jeannette participated from afar with NativeOUT email discussions and attended events while still living in Tucson.

As she contemplated starting up a group, with other LGBT Tucson-area Natives, she said, “I think having a [Native LGBT/Two-Spirit] group is important for every community [because] our self-awareness, our passion, our talent, our knowledge, the spiritual beings that we are must be embraced and passed on to the next generation, so they [may] be gifted as well.”

Jeanette and six other members of the new Tucson area group will be holding their first meeting on Monday, January 23rd. The group will meet at Wingspan in Tucson at 6pm.

Interview with Tucson Native LGBT/Two-Spirit Group

What is the name of the group?
Our group name for the time being is Native LGBT-T (Two-Spirit).  Once we get more members I hope we can come up with a name that we all identify with.

What is the group’s mission?
Currently we don’t have a mission, but do plan to develop one.  I think the main point is to bring awareness to the community about the true essence of Two-Spirited people. It’s my hope that by forming a group we honor our pride, become more visible in the Tucson-Southern Arizona community, and provide opportunities for networking.

What area of Arizona will the group represent?

Southern Arizona-Tucson

Who can be a member?
Will you charge membership fees? Membership is open to anyone who identifies as Native American and is a Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, or Two-Spirit.  I don’t think we are at the point to determine membership fees yet.

How many members do you have so far?
So far we have 6 members who are from the Yaqui, Tohono O’odham, Cherokee, and Dine’ Nation.

When is the first meeting?

Monday, January 23rd at 6:00pm, Wingspan 425 E. 7th St. Tucson, AZ

What is on the agenda for the first meeting?
The agenda for the first meeting is to form a mission statement and basically gather ideas to commit to forming a group.  We also will have a guest speaker from the Tucson Indian Center who will speak on health topics.

Who can people contact to get more information?
Contact Jeanette at Azdesertdine@aol.com, 520-250-3927 or contact Jaecin (with Wingspan) for the location of Wingspan, 520-624-1779 ext-11. View map of Wingspan at 425 E. 7th Street, Tucson, Arizona.

About Jeanette Long

What is your tribal affiliation?
Navajo (Dine’)

What is your profession?

I work in Corrections with the State of Arizona.  I am also a part-time student working toward a Master’s in Public Health and volunteer with the American Indian Program under the Veteran’s Administration.

What Native or LGBT organizations have you been involved with?
I have participated in NativeOUT and last summer attended the Hózhó Náhásdlíí Summer Gathering sponsored by the Navajo Aids Network (NAN).  Mattie and Marco, with NAN, did an excellent job coordinating the event and I found the gathering to be very uplifting for our Native LGBT community.  It was my first time being among Navajo transgenders and I had a wonderful time.  It gave me an opportunity to view their world which is full of joy, humor, and a sense of belonging.  The inner cultural and spiritual roots of our Native transgenders were greatly exemplified and validated the gifted spirit and beauty they possess.  They also make delicious frybread and mutton!