Chapter 5: Grief in Indigenous LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit communities


Elders and knowledge carriers say
Elder Albert McLeod speaks about the complexities of grief within Indigenous communities.(3:22)Video transcript

The first time I went to a health centre, the police frisked me. I was there to get help, and it made me so uncomfortable. They took me to a room with plastic couches, and I waited there for 45 minutes with police outside the door. It was super intimidating especially as a queer and Indigenous person. 

As an Indigenous LGBTQ+ or Two-Spirit person in Canada, you may be carrying the weight of collective trauma and grief resulting from centuries of discrimination and oppression due to colonization. In addition to homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, you may be subjected to racial discrimination, both within broader society and within 2SLGBTQ+ communities. This may be very obvious to you, or it may be more subtle, such as through a lack of appropriate services.

What does “Two-Spirit” mean?

  • “Two-Spirit” is used by some Indigenous people to refer to  gender identity in a way that does not necessarily refer to the binary genders of male and female. In Indigenous cultures, spirit names are multidimensional and are subject to interpretation over time and circumstance. 
  • Some mainstream LGBTQ+ communities have adopted the Two-Spirt acronym “2S” or “2” and place it at the beginning of “LGBTQ+,” recognizing and honouring the cultural and historical place of Indigenous LGBTQ+ Peoples in the Americas.