Virtual screening hosted by SFSU
All are welcome at the first LGBTQI-sponsored
event of its kind
with Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits
In association with the GLBT Historical Society.
Aired nationally on public TV stations
for LGBTQI Pride Month in June, 2020
National Educational Telecommunications Association
and broadcast in 122 markets on the WORLD Channel
Bravo!! The fear, the courage...this beautiful film is an important part of healing us all.
Lakota Harden, KPFA Bay Native Circle
This documentary is good news for a change. The ambient joy at this gathering is a pleasure to watch.
Takes you behind the scenes and shows some of the tension between conservative event traditionalists and the new generation.
Moving. A fascinating look inside an aspect of LGBTQI life that many know little about.
Since 2012 the San Francisco nonprofit Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) has hosted an annual Two-Spirit Powwow to welcome all members of the community, the first and largest LGBTQI-hosted event of its kind in North America. Over the course of 7 years, "Two-Spirit Powwow," the film, follows their efforts from the modest inaugural event held in a community center to the huge events held at the Cow Palace and Fort Mason Center of recent years. We meet the all-volunteer staff who work long hours to provide a warm welcome to native and ally visitors from around the country. When traditional conservative powwow protocol conflicts with queer-positive identity, the two-spirit powwow breaks new ground by changing up the rules. For LGBTQI natives who still face prejudice and stigmatization in many conservative Indian communities, just attending the powwow is a pioneering act of resistance, now appropriately held within view of Alcatraz Island where earlier Indian protests took place.
Interviewees include San Francisco's Miko Thomas (Chickasaw) aka Landa Lakes, Grass Dancer Sheldon Raymore (Cheyenne River Sioux) who flies from New York City to reintroduce his mother to the dance circle after years of being alienated for her support of her gay son, and the Cherokee drummers and singers of Southern Pride Drum who travel all the way from Oklahoma each year…by car. From playful hand drum songs about Indian dating to the tasty history of fry bread, the film is a fascinating glimpse into cultural preservation and redefining traditions on one’s own terms. “Two-Spirit Powwow” is particularly relevant at a time when otherness is challenged daily in mainstream media and LGBTQI youth suicide is a grim reality on Indian reservations. BAAITS Board member Ruth Villaseñor (Chiricahua Apache) sums it up: “Youth on the Reservation who are questioning will be proud and be able to know, ‘Oh, wait! I know some gay native people who are really proud of who they are. I want to be like that!’”
Broadcast premiere November 2019 on Northern California Public Media.
poster by Bree Lynch
Screened with panel discussion January 2020 at
GLBT Historical Society, San Francisco.
From left, Roger Kuhn, BAAITS; Rick Bacigalupi, Producer; Landa Lakes, BAAITS. Photo: Leonard Martin Hughet