Gays in small Amazon tribes

What happens to them?

I’m talking about the tribes deep in the jungle that only National Geographic meet.

Inspired by another thread.

They usually go into showbiz.

They stay in the jungle.

Camp out, you mean?

Serious answer - I don’t know about Amazon tribes, specifically, but in some other similar cultures, they might become shamans or the like.

I don’t know about Amazon tribes, but Native American homosexuality is well documented in the [url=“http:// Two-Spirit Tradition: Gay Love and the Native American experience - The World History of Male Love”]Two-Spirit Tradition[/ url]. [The accompanying ad may be NSFW, and I don’t know how often that changes, but the page itself is fine.]

It’s difficult to summarize, but here’s a typical paragraph.

As has been mentioned, many American Indian cultures had a less dichotomous view of sexuality as has been typical of Western cultures. Among the Kuna Indians of the Caribbean coast of Panama, homosexuality and/or transvestitism is generally accepted, if not regarded as ideal. Some males dress in the traditional female costume, and make a living sewing molas, the traditional textile handicraft. I recall seeing a TV program on one such person, who sometimes lived as a female in the Kuna homeland, but at times lived in Panama City where he dressed in western style male clothes and participated in the male gay scene. (In an interview, his mother confessed that she was disappointed when she found he was not straight, but was accepting of him now because he helped support the family through his sewing.) When in the Kuna homeland, I’ve met a few males who dressed as males (though a bit, how shall I say it, swish) but engaged in making and sewing molas. Also, the cook at the hotel where I usually stay was a lesbian Kuna woman who dressed in male clothing.


After checking the link, I think it’s sufficiently NSFW that I broke it.

General Questions Moderator

There was a strongly-hinted-to-be-gay Indian fella in the Dustin Hoffman movie Little Big Man, set among the Cheyenne, and I always wondered if that was historically/culturally accurate.

Not so “flaimingly” so, but there is a tradition of “two-spirit” or “two-souls” people in some Indians tribes.

Thanks - very interesting. No mention of the Cheyenne that I saw, though.

Whie I won’t claim to have any comprehensive knowledge of the topic, I suggest you watch the documentary Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale. In addition to the obvious topic in the title, it deals with indigenous Amazon-basin tribes and their approach to homosexuality. It’s a fascinating movie, all around.

Then then were those groups like the Chiricahua Apache who would kill gays, regarding being gay as a sign of a witch, according to Opler’s An Apache life-way: the economic, social, and religious institutions of the Chiricahua Indians (1941).

The Two-Spirit Wiki article would seem to disagree with that (2nd-last para before the quote box), but someone would have to read LAng’s book to get to the thruth of it. On the whole, though, I’d find a '98 cite a bit more convincing than a '41 one.

:confused: Surely the '98 cite is further removed (over half a century) from people with first-hand knowledge?

True, but also perhaps freerer from the homophobia of the Forties.

That, plus greatly improved research methodologies.
And the Apache in the 40s are no more related to the pre-Columbus Apache than I am to a Bushman.

That’s presumably going to vary from one tribe to another. It’s not as if there’s a single “Amazon tribespeople” culture that all Amazon tribes are part of.

The less contact a tribe has with the rest of the world, the less we’re going to know about how anybody, gay or straight, lives in that tribe.

They get a super job on Big Gay Al’s jungle boat ride, thanks for asking.

Somehow there’s a whiff of the Noble Savage in the air here: “All natives were pro-gay until the White Man came to rule.” Opler’s study of the Chiricahua was conducted in the 1930’s, and entailed interviewing Apache elders about the life of their youth, ie. the 1870-80’s or so. MrDibble, I wonder how have research methodologies concerning traditional Chiricahua life been improved since that time? We don’t have any traditional Chiricahua to ask questions around any more.
Elendil’s heir, are you suggesting those old Apache concocted stories of witchcraft based on European homophobia, or do you think Opler’s description is biased by the prevalent attitudes of the time? Opler’s (a civil-rights activist) work is still highly regarded and was last reprinted in 1996 by Nebraska Uni, for those interested in seeking it out. Chapter Sorcery and Incest, page 249, on the treatment of homosexuals.