Two-Spirit leader honored with local hero award

Two-Spirit leader honored with local hero award

Miko Thomas, 2006 LGBT Local Hero

Today Miko Thomas received the KQED public broadcasting station’s LGBT Local Hero Award. The award is given to outstanding LGBT community members of Northern California in honor of LGBT Pride Month. Past Two-Spirit awardees include L. Frank (activist and artist) and Randy Burns (founder of Gay American Indians). Below is a little background on Miko from the KQED website.

Miko Thomas is the co-chair of the Bay Area American Indians Two-Spirits (BAAITS). BAAITS exists to restore and recover the role of Two-Spirit people within the American Indian/First Nations community by creating forums for the spiritual, cultural and artistic expression of Two-Spirit people.

As co-chair of BAAITS, Thomas has made the visibility of Native Americans in LGBT community his priority. He helped organize the largest BAAITS contingent at last year’s Pride Parade and the Two-Spirit Nations gathering space at Civic Center. His presence and voice has been heard at the Creating Change Conference, as a board member of the Native American AIDS Project, a participant of the Honor Project, an advocate for Marriage Equality, and has been heard on radio programs such as Native America Calling, Voices of the Native Nations, Bay Area Indian Circle as well as other local cable access shows. Last year, BAAITS hosted the International Two-Spirit Gathering where Thomas aided in the planning and fund raising. As his drag persona, Landa Lakes, Thomas has created the first Native American Drag ensemble, the Brush Arbor Gurlz (BAGz). The BAGz have put on several performances which helped to fund the budget for BAAITS and the Two-Spirit Gathering.

Thomas grew up in south central Oklahoma within the borders of his tribe, the Chickasaw Nation. His first exposure to Native American politics began early on in his life, after his father became active in the American Indian Movement. These formative years helped to mold Thomas into a leader seeking inclusion, justice and visibility. He is an ordained minister and was able to preach acceptance and inclusion to several Chickasaw charge churches in Oklahoma. As a veteran of the US Navy, Thomas served aboard the USS Flint AE 32 during Desert Shield which became Desert Storm.