Native American Cultures back in the time when the first Europeans arrived recognized three to five “genders” They were male, female, two spirit male (gay), two spirit female(lesbian) , and transsexual. These two spirit members of their tribe were often highly revered. From the linked article
Indians believed that a person who was able to see the world through the eyes of both genders at the same time was a gift from The Creator. Traditionally, Two Spirit people held positions within their tribes that earned them great respect, such as Medicine Men/Women, shamans, visionaries, mystics, conjurers, keepers of the tribe’s oral traditions, conferrers of lucky names for children and adults (it has been said that Crazy Horse received his name from a Winkte), nurses during war expeditions, cooks, matchmakers and marriage counselors, jewelry/feather regalia makers, potters, weavers, singers/artists in addition to adopting orphaned children and tending to the elderly. Female-bodied Two Spirits were hunters, warriors, engaged in what was typically men’s work and by all accounts, were always fearless.Indian Country Today, Sept 2017
What a refreshing way to look at our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Of course this was all stamped out when the European settlers arrive. Beside bringing them disease that they had no immunity to that killed their physical body, they brought the Christian religion that killed their spiritual sole. When Christopher Columbus encountered the Two Spirit people, he and his crew threw them into pits with their war dogs and were torn limb from limb. (And we have a National Holiday to celebrate this man???)
Also the Samoan culture has a 3rd gender called Fa’afafines.
The third gender of ‘Fa’afafine’ has always existed within Samoan society, and when translated literally means ‘in the manner of’ (fa’a) ‘woman’ (fafine). Fa’afafines have a very specific role in Samoan society, an interesting contrast to transgenderism in Western society, which is yet to be widely accepted.Culture Trip: Fa’afafines: The Third Gender in Samoa
I wonder how this all fits with the Book of Mormon and the Lamanites, or Hagoth in the case of the Samoans. If we believe like every prophet from Joseph Smith to recent prophets that all Native Americans are Lamanites, then maybe we could rationalize that they were “cut off from the presence of the Lord” and they became “loathsome”, “idle”, and “full of mischief and subtlety” so it is no wonder that they had such a wrong view of gender? But what if they had the correct view of gender. What if there are five genders, and the Native Americans are way ahead of us spiritually?
[Image by David Mark from Pixabay]
My son came out as gay 10 years ago. My first words after “I love you” were (I’m embarrassed to say) “let me tell you what the church has to say”. Like he didn’t already know in excruciating detail.
In the past decade, I have become immersed in the LGBTQ+ community. Going to movies, doing service projects, hanging out, getting help from some lesbians when we had an emergency evacuation for a wildfire, attending AA meetings as a support person, suicide interventions, and a whole lot of listening and learning. It’s a wonderful, supportive community and I’m honored to be the old, white, cis-het guy in the room.
And, sadly, I’ve attended too many funerals for those that just couldn’t find a pain-free place with their church, family, and community.
An uncle of an honor student/musician/record-level swimmer spoke at one of the funerals. He was made a general authority 70 in the April 2020 conference and his father is an apostle (have you figured it out yet?).
He learned that his nephew was gay the day of the funeral. So his remarks on this amazing two-spirits’ orientation were not scripted and, most likely, represented his actual thoughts and feelings.
First, he acknowledged the “diversity” in the audience, which was filled with Rainbow Kids. The Momma Dragons and Dragon Dads were also there in abundance.
He danced all around his nephew’s orientation, never saying “gay” or “same-sex attraction” or even “LGBTQ”. Just “his condition”.
He assured us all that Jesus was hard at work “fixing” his nephew in the spirit world so that he would be able to qualify for all that the eternities have to offer. The picture he painted was clear to all: “better dead now so that Jesus could fix him right away than a lifetime of suffering with his circumstance”.
I would hope that, had he the time to prepare a message with the knowledge that his nephew was gay, that the “better dead than same-sex sin” message would have been left out. Unfortunately, I think the LGBTQ = Broken would still be there.
The marginalization of this community and these individuals is the church’s loss. And its sin.
That is an amazing concept that I have never heard before. I love the pre-Christian concept of the native Americans.
I can assure you that being gay is not a choice! No one would ever choose the self-loathing, persecution, and outcast path if it was within their control! We are just like everyone else, doing the best we can.!
I love the First Nations concept of Two Spirit people. It’s hard to understand how Christianity and other world religions got things so wrong and all the very real physical and emotional damage to people’s lives that has resulted. I know that my own walk away from believing is because of these issues.
Also – regarding your last paragraph I believe that science has proven that the native people of the Americas and the south sea islands have nothing to do with the Book of Mormon..
As my LGBTQ child has frequently reminded me, gender and sexuality are different from each other, both have broad spectrums of distribution, so that they combine in numerous ways, even though a majority of individuals cluster in the male and female heterosexual categories. So I am not convinced that we should try to limit to five or six categories, even though that feels convenient sometimes.
While I am uncomfortable with your equating Native Americans with the Lamanites characters in the Book of Mormon, I agree that there is much to value in various Native American cultures and a less rigid construction of human sexuality would be somethinghing that the LDS church would benefit from adopting.
I honestly don’t know how many genders exist. And I don’t know how fluid gender is for most people. Just like I don’t know why sexuality is so varied among so many of our brothers and sisters. But here’s what I do know: I will look to science for the answers. The idea that the Brethren have the answers to these issues is wishful thinking.
Maybe the real reason that the Lamonites broke away from self righteous Nephi’s group was because Laman was gay and Nephi persecuted and shamed him unmercifully. And the remanant of the Lamanites stayed open minded and accepting of gender and sexual variations, while the Nephites dwindled in self righteous bigotry. Makes more sense than how the BoM tells the story. But of course, Nephi wouldn’t tell the story that way.
Anyway, I am kidding about the fictional Lamanites, science shows they did not exist as portrayed in BoM. Seriously though, I wish the church could be as accepting of differences as the American natives. They do a lot of harm with their unwillingness to really accept that we are all God’s children and God made us exactly how we are supposed to be, including what we call “birth defects.” (See below) The church leaders insist that God doesn’t make mistakes, and so, I accept them at their word. But I also believe science and science has said for as long as I can remember that gay tendencies are inborn. In my high school psych class back in the sixties, we discussed this, and the general authorities are not so old but that they would not have been taught this in a university class. So, they just choose to think they know more than the scientists who have been studying this for the last 60+ years.
Jesus, when asked who sinned, a blind man or his parents that he was born blind, Jesus said that neither sinned, that the man was born blind to teach the rest of us compassion. I know my daughter turning out gay sure taught her homophobic grandfather compassion in a hurry
10ac, my equating Lamanites to Native Americans was just an exercise in thought. I don’t think there are many TBMs left that believe it either, though it was the predominate thought up through Pres Kimball’s administration. Probable just the over 60’s TBM that would cling to that notion. .
There was a really good fictional book that addressed this! Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (retelling of Peter Pan).
I just want to add –
@BeenThere – your account of that funeral was very painful to read 😕 And sadly one more GA to lose respect for.
It’s their gender binary/ essentialist & sexuality issues that are going to lose the church my kids. Has already lost them one, who resigned, and now affiliates with Community of Christ. The other is hanging in there, but has always been sensitive to these issues, being part of a rainbow group of friends in her cohort whilst at school, choosing to study portrayals of homosexuality in English language & literature, selecting to write about Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’, and writing her own very moving composition based on the story of Apollo and Hyacinthus. As a student YSA I’ve had her contact me to let off steam following some very rigid YSA Sunday school lessons she found intolerable.
Elisa, I loved that book Tiger Lily.
Well, good to see Bill is firmly out there on those strange and forbidden paths now.
Would that GA 70 also have been president of the secular Utah university in Provo for 9 years? It’s disappointing that he hadn’t attempted to understand LGBTQ+ concerns while he was representing new adults. Sounds like a sad display of willful ignorance.
I agree with 10ac and Josh H that restricting to a set number of gender identities may prove problematic, but the key cultural value I see here is in finding those who aren’t strictly binary as having a uniquely valuable contribution to the community, insight that others may not have, a unique place of service. I have loved that idea since I first heard about the role of non-binary people in ancient cultures. IMO, the most charismatic people are men who have feminine qualities and women who have masculine qualities. Toxic masculinity (men who loathe the feminine and fear being called feminine) and its feminine counterpart (women who deliberately emphasize their femininity while downplaying anything our culture considers masculine) are the least attractive people out there. Having balance and self-acceptance always feels like an advantage.
@Angela said “IMO, the most charismatic people are men who have feminine qualities and women who have masculine qualities.” I agree with this statement. I think those same people are beautiful as well. I also agree with your definition of toxic masculinity (men who loathe the feminine and fear being called feminine), and your reference to the same attitudes from women on the opposite side. However, there is a difference between a man who loathes the feminine, and a man who is very masculine with few or no feminine qualities. There is also a difference between a woman who loathes the masculine (as exhibited in other women) and a woman that is very feminine and has few or no masculine qualities. A woman who feels very feminine likely cannot control that anymore than a woman who feels a mixture of feminine and masculine qualities. I’m sure I would get pushback (as I should) if I stated that women with masculine qualities or men with feminine qualities are the least attractive among us, particularly since we have established that those qualities within each of us are not a choice. Is it any better to say that men or women who happen to not have that mixture (again without a choice) are not attractive? To be clear, I am not referring to the toxicity that can be exhibited. Hatefulness is ugly in all of its forms. But if we are all on the masculine/feminine spectrum somewhere, and if we don’t really have a choice as to where we are on that spectrum, then I’m not sure its a good idea to refer to men or women who might be on the edges of strict masculinity or femininity as not attractive.