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TWO SPIRITS: A Story of the Navajos
released in 2006 by Lethe Press
For information see:
This “Western genre” novel, based in historical fact, tells a tale of adventure of a
young man from rural Virginia,assignedto be the GovernmentIndian Agent on
the BosqueRedond oReservatio nin the desolat eNew Mexicodesertafter the
Civil War. In the 1860s, the Navajo Indians were held as virtual prisonersof war
in an “experiment in Indian management” under the command of an
unscrupulousIndian War general who was later removed because he had been
swindling money sent by Washington for the Indians’ food and lodging, making
himself rich at the Indians’ expense and suffering.
This story recounts how the fictional Indian Agent develops a romantic
relationshipwith a Two-Spiritmedicineman among the Navajos,and so comes
to appreciate personally the plight of the Indians on the reservation. The TwoSp iri tPe rs o nis m ode lle do n th e re ve r e dcha ra ct e rin ce rta i nNat i v eAme rica n
cultures who blends masculine and feminine genders into a kind of loving
exemplar of the culture’s spiritual values.
Through a series of adventures, shot through with Navajo mysticism, the two
lovers expose the general’s chicanery and bring about the Indians’ return to their
ancestral homeland in eastern Arizona. In the process, the young Virginian
learnsNativeAmerica nspiritualit yand discover sa positiv econtex tfor his own
emotional and sexual development.
His marriage to his Two-Spirit partner demonstrates historical precedent for
same-sex marriage on American soil.
TWO SPIRITS was awarded a developmentgrant in the Arch and Bruce Brown
Foundation competition for Gay-positive Art Projects based on Historical
W alte rL W illiam sis autho rof the award-winni nb
professor of anthropology and gender studies at the University of Southern
California, where he teaches gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender studies, and
also American Indian Studies. He is past president of ONE Institute International
Gay and Lesbian Archives,and is currentlyeditor of the INTERNATIONALGAY
AND LESBIAN REVIEW. For the past two decades, he has been speaking on
the berdache (now more correctlycalled Two-Spirit)phenomenonand has been
well-received both by fellow anthropologists and by general audiences. THE
SPIRIT AND THE FLESH is a basic staple of any gay reading list and is stocked
in bookstores well beyond the network of gay stores.
Toby Johnson is a writer and former bookseller in the gay genre. He was a
counselor in San Francisco in the 1970s and one of the developers of gayoriented psychotherapy. For almost seven years, he and his partner operated
LibertyBooks, the lesbianand gay communitybookstorein Austin.He has had
published three gay novels and three non-fiction works about the ideas of
renowned religions scholar Joseph Campbell. His novel SECRET MATTER won
a Lammy in 1990; in 1999, it was nominatedfor inductioninto the Gay Lesbian
Scienc eFictio nHall of Fame in the first year of the competitio ns, o one of five
nominees out of all the gay and lesbian science fiction ever written.