What's the deal with the Gay Indian?

Incidentally, to the Tsitsistas the term hemaneh also applied to the “Contraries” (Younger Bear in Little Big Man, who rode horses backwards, spoke backwards, slept outside and defecated inside, and did all things backwards). There were also other forms of hemaneh but these were the two most common; it almost means “alternative lifestyle” in the more accurate sense than we use that term today.

As an AIDS epidemiologist in New Mexico, I ran across quite a lot of homosexual men and transgendered persons among the native Americans. One IHS hospital even had a large group of men accessing the free health services in order to get female hormones so that they could more easily live as women. “Berdach” is considered a negative term to the people who are enlightened about this issue, who usually prefer “two spirited.” What I found among the Navajos is that some very traditional Navajos were accepting of homosexuality and gave historical accounts to support their past roles of importance in the tribe. Other tradtional Navajos (albeit usually those who converted to Christianity) felt that homosexuality went against their cultural norms. Do a search and you’ll find many American tribes have historical acceptance of homosexuality - sometimes revering them as shamans. Whatever the history is, I noticed a preponderance of Native Americans in gay bars and in transsexual settings in New Mexico.