Monday July 16, 2018
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Shooting at Florida gay nightclub, 50 killed

Mass shooting is being investigated as an "act of terrorism."

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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, center right, and Orlando Police Chief John Mina, center left, arrive to a news conference after a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando Image: VOA
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  • Shooting at Florida gay nightclub in Orlando
  • Omar Saddiqui guMateen has been identified as the gunman behind the incident
  • Another 53 people were killed when the police shot the suspect and rescued the club-goers inside

A gunman behind the worst mass shooting in US history that left 50 people dead at an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub has reportedly been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent.

The early Sunday attack ended when police stormed the Pulse nightclub, fatally shooting the suspect and rescuing club-goers trapped inside. Another 53 people were wounded.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Sunday that a state of emergency has been declared.

An FBI official said the mass shooting is being investigated as an “act of terrorism.”

 Christina Grimmie performs as the opener for Rachel Platten at Center Stage Theater, in Atlanta, March 2, 2016. Grimmie was shot by a gunman as she signed autographs for fans after a show, killing the onetime star of "The Voice" late Friday Image: VOA
Christina Grimmie performs as the opener for Rachel Platten at Center Stage Theater, in Atlanta, March 2, 2016. Grimmie was shot by a gunman as she signed autographs for fans after a show, killing the onetime star of “The Voice” late Friday
Image: VOA

The White House issued a statement indicating President Barack Obama has been briefed by his counterterrorism and homeland security advisor and has asked to receive regular updates.  The statement said the president ordered the federal government to provide investigators with “any assistance necessary.”  It also said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims.”

On the gay club’s Facebook page, a post around 2 a.m. gave early indication of the tragedy that was unfolding.

“Everyone get out of pulse,” a page administrator wrote, “and keep running.

Why the club was targeted remains unclear. The shooting comes as many cities around the world celebrate June as LGBT Pride Month. The mass shooting follows another grim night in Orlando. Singer Christina Grimmie, a 22-year-old YouTube star and one-time contestant of the TV talent show “The Voice,” was fatally shot by a man during a meet-and-greet session with fans outside her concert in the same city Friday night. (VOA)

 

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  • AJ Krish

    Everyone has the right to be who they are.They needn’t be afraid of it. But the recent killings show that people are yet to accept them.This is truly sad.

  • devika todi

    such acts of violence, i feel are acts against humanity.

  • Paras Vashisth

    Pray for the victims of the family. It is indeed a tragic incident and this is the time for all of us to stood in unity.

  • Chetna Karnani

    A total act of hindering world peace. While the LGBT community had always been targeted as the ‘other’ in the society, this act in the US has brought men together as one standing against violence.

  • sahil nandwani

    I pay my heartiest griveance to the people of America.I think that from this violence people should stand in unity and should fight against it. So that this incident should not happen in future.

SHARE
  • AJ Krish

    Everyone has the right to be who they are.They needn’t be afraid of it. But the recent killings show that people are yet to accept them.This is truly sad.

  • devika todi

    such acts of violence, i feel are acts against humanity.

  • Paras Vashisth

    Pray for the victims of the family. It is indeed a tragic incident and this is the time for all of us to stood in unity.

  • Chetna Karnani

    A total act of hindering world peace. While the LGBT community had always been targeted as the ‘other’ in the society, this act in the US has brought men together as one standing against violence.

  • sahil nandwani

    I pay my heartiest griveance to the people of America.I think that from this violence people should stand in unity and should fight against it. So that this incident should not happen in future.

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You’re Not Two-Spirit Unless You Are Familiar With Your Traditions

Two-spirit is a pan-Indian term

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L to R: Vicki Quintero (White Mountain Apache), Timothy
L to R: Vicki Quintero (White Mountain Apache), Timothy "Twix" Ward, San Carlos Apache, and Vanessa Kristina (Salt River Pima), who all identify as two-spirited. VOA

Growing up, Timothy “Twix” Ward, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona, thought he was “normal.” But his family recognized there was something “special” about him.

“It wasn’t until I got older that I knew who I was, that I was different from everyone else,” he said. Ward identifies not as a man or a woman, but both — and neither: Twix Ward is a Two-Spirit.

The term was first devised in Winnipeg, Canada, during a 1990 inter-tribal conference of Native American/First Nations gays and lesbians. Derived from the Ojibwe language, the term was deliberately chosen to serve as a “pan-Indian” term encompassing indigenous people who don’t fit into any normative gender role.

“Two-spirited people are not LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Gender Queer], although some two-spirited people are LGBTQ,” said Ward, narrowing the definition. “You’re not two-spirit unless you are familiar with your cultural identity and your traditions.”

Shown is Timothy "Twix" Ward, San Carlos Apache two spirit, who specializes in the traditional craft of basket weaving.
Shown is Timothy “Twix” Ward, San Carlos Apache two spirit, who specializes in the traditional craft of basket weaving. VOA

Ward lives year-round in a traditional Apache house. He participates in traditional ceremonies. He is also a basket weaver and seamstress, specializing in basketry and making dresses for young Navajo women’s coming-of-age ceremonies.

“I try to teach the girls what the dress is for, the meaning behind it in their ceremony,” Ward said.

But not everyone in the community accepts him, and he admits to loneliness.

“I still carry the traditional [two-spirit] face markings, the traditional attire,” he said. “Some people that claim to be traditional are upset with me because they think I’m acting like I know more than them.”

A ca. 1886 photograph of We'wha (Zuni, N.M.), a famous lhamana (“like a woman"), the traditional Zuni gender role now described as two spirit. Courtesy: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration - 523798
A ca. 1886 photograph of We’wha (Zuni, N.M.), a famous lhamana (“like a woman”), the traditional Zuni gender role now described as two spirit. Courtesy: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration – 523798. VOA

This year, the tribal council blocked him from using their facilities to hold a second annual “Miss Apache Diva” beauty contest.

Balancing the male and female

Thirteen hundred miles away in South Dakota, Kellie Bingen also identifies as a two-spirit bisexual. Born on the Lower Brule Reservation, she now lives in Sioux Falls, which makes her an “urban Indian,” serving on the board of the Sioux Falls Two Spirit and Allies group.

“Two-spirits are people who can balance both their male and their female sides,” she said. “I’ve been a ‘tomboy’ my whole life. Dad taught us girls to do anything that a man can do, so we learned how to install sheetrock and to roof, and to fix our own cars.”

But she said she still has a “girlie” side. “I can wear heels and a dress, put makeup on, and go out and be pretty.”

Like Ward, Bingen believes only Natives who are in touch with their traditions can claim two-spirit identity — and the term should never be co-opted by non-Natives.

New York City musician and activist Tony Enos offers a slightly different interpretation.

“Two-spirit is a pan-Indian term for Native people who identify as gender queer, gender non-conforming, gender fluid,” he said.

Born to a biracial family and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he identifies as two-spirit based on paternal Cherokee ancestry.

This October 2017 photo shows Tony Enos during protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline held near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota
This October 2017 photo shows Tony Enos during protests to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline held near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, VOA

“Before colonization, we were balance-keepers. We were the only ones that could move between the men’s and women’s camps. There was a special role for these gender queer, gender fluid, gender non-conforming tribal individuals who had this special medicine, this blessing to be able to see life through male and female eyes.”

And that’s what the two-spirit movement is all about, he said — reclaiming the special role two-spirits held in pre-colonial tribal societies.

But is that even possible?

Decolonizing the ‘berdache’

"Employments of the Hermaphrodites," an engraving published by Theodor de Bry (1591), after a watercolor by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, in what is today Florida. In some tribal cultures, two spirits cared for the sick and buried the dead.
“Employments of the Hermaphrodites,” an engraving published by Theodor de Bry (1591), after a watercolor by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, in what is today Florida. In some tribal cultures, two spirits cared for the sick and buried the dead. VOA

Much of what is known about historic two-spirits comes from accounts written by Western missionaries, adventurers and ethnographers, who referred to anyone who deviated gender norms by the derogatory term “berdache,” derived from the Arabic for slaves or kept boys.

Tribes had their own terms for third (if men) and forth (if women) genders — “like a girl,” “manly-hearted woman,“ “both man and woman,” “fake,” “supernatural” or “instructed by the moon.”

In some tribes, two-spirits were considered sacred and were honored as healers, seers, name-givers, or in the case of the Yokuts and Mono of California, gravediggers, as they were believed to be guided by the dead.

“But not all tribes honored them,” said Wesley K. Thomas, a Navajo anthropologist, professor and graduate dean of the Navajo Technical University School of Graduate Studies and Research. He believes two-spirits tended to be honored only in matrilineal tribes like the Navajo, where descendancy is traced from the mother’s line.

In other tribes, they were merely tolerated.

“There were even some patrilineal tribal societies who committed infanticide of such children [early on] or later in life,” he said.

George Catlin (1796-1872), Dance to the Berdache. Drawn while on the Great Plains, among the Sac and Fox Indians, the sketch depicts a ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person.
George Catlin (1796-1872), Dance to the Berdache. Drawn while on the Great Plains, among the Sac and Fox Indians, the sketch depicts a ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person.
VOA

Whatever their status, the subjugation and Christianization of Indians by Europeans ensured that two-spirits were stamped out.

“As the country is gradually being filled with the Missions, these detestable people will be eradicated and that this most abominable of vices will be exterminated,” wrote Spanish missionary to California Francisco Palou in 1777.

By the mid-20th century, gay Native Americans, facing homophobia and ostracism within their own communities, began to flock to urban centers for safe haven.

“But there, they found themselves marginalized by non-Native LGBTQ communities,” said Thomas. Hence the need to name themselves.

Thomas isn’t critical of the two-spirit movement, which in his words “gives them a sense of belonging, of identity, self-affirmation.”

That said, Thomas doesn’t believe they will ever recover any honor given to them in the past.

San Francisco, California's two spirit contingent marches at the San Francisco Pride parade, June 2014.
San Francisco, California’s two spirit contingent marches at the San Francisco Pride parade, June 2014.
VOA

Also read: LGBT activists in London call for decriminalisation of homosexuality

“It’s not possible,” he said. “We have been distanced too much from our traditional ways and cultures.” (VOA)