Gay American Indians

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The Gay American Indians (GAI) was a gay rights organization founded in San Francisco in 1975 by Randy Burns and Barbara May Cameron, initially as a safe place to socialize and share. It was reputed to be the first organization of its kind in the country.

History[edit]

The initial purpose of the group was described by Randy Burns (co-founder) as a "safe place to socialize and share." The founders wanted a space to address the intersectionality of their identities. GAI Members advocated for the use of the term "two-spirit" as an alternative to the term "berdache" because they viewed the latter as problematic due to the term's origins. The group also worked in the 1980s with Will Roscoe, a scholar, to produce a book about the meaning of "berdache."[1] The GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco holds some of the papers from this collaboration; the abstract states that GAI was "the first gay American Indian liberation organization, founded in July 1975."[2] The Bay Area Reporter credits GAI was the "first organization for queer Natives in the country." [3]

Members of the GAI often gathered socially at Esta Noche, a San Francisco gay bar. Subsequently,[when?] a later Bay Area group formed, the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits (BAAITS).[4] Burns is quoted that one of the "main reasons" GAI was founded was as a social alternative to the discrimination in the Castro district.[3]

In 1985, a member of GAI died of AIDS, and in 1987 the organization founded the Indian AIDS Project. Co-founder Randy Burns commented in 2015 that 82 members of GAI had died of AIDS.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Faiman-Silva, Sandra (November 19, 2011). "Anthropologists and Two-Spirit People: Building Bridges and Sharing Knowledge". Anthropology Faculty Publications.
  2. ^ "Will Roscoe papers and Gay American Indians records". www.oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  3. ^ a b c "The Bay Area Reporter Online | Gay American Indians
    celebrate 40 years"
    . Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  4. ^ Faderman, Lillian (2007-01-01). Great Events from History: 1848-1983. Salem Press. ISBN 9781587652646.