Chrystos’s early life
Born Chrystos Lieve Snellings on Nov 7,1946
She was raised in San Francisco, California
Her mom was depressed and her Menominee tribe father was
ashamed of his heritage that he refused to speak in the native
Early on in life she was introduced to the harshness of the
world when she was sexually abused by a relative.
As a young adult Chrystos fell into prostitution, alcoholism,
and drugs. Full of confusion and self-hate she was trying to
cope with everything.
• Full of angst and opinions
she began to write intense
poetry to release the pent
up steam of thoughts.
• In 1988 Chrysto’s first full
book of poetry Not
vanishing was published.
• Her writing style very
much influenced by the
injustice her people, her
gender, and her sexual
orientation have suffered
are full of anger seeking
justice for the abused.
• Her words often
and deep thoughts on
society and the way
we treat women,
minority groups and
warfare on the less
• Standing up , sometimes
extravagantly , for what she
believes in and for those who
cannot. She writes critically on
how she feels and what she sees.
In American society, part of the discussion about marriage is really about sex. When we
can. When not to. What gender to be with etc. While sex was a part of
traditional Native American marriage, marriage was not about sex.
Prior to marriage, young people were expected to engage in sexual
activities in order to understand themselves and their environment
better. Sex was not confined to marriage. One of the things that
upset many of the early Christian missionaries was the fact that
Indian women were allowed to express their sexuality and to
choose their own sexual partners. How dare a women choose to be
so “promiscuous” in her dealings with the world. In Native
American culture it was a choice to engage in those activities not a
requirement and it was not forbidden. It was the same freedom the
men in their community had.
In conventional America there is a view that there
are only two genders: male and female. Yet, in
American Native cultures people did not make this
an either/or situation.
in the Native American society there is a third gender.
Third gender, also known as Two-Spirit is displayed when
the male and female spirit is in one body. People with
these spirits take on roles dominated by the opposite sex;
they still associate with the common roles dominated by
their biological sex. In the tribe, the Two-Spirit people are
highly respected and often honored in the Native
American community. Two-Spirit people are considered a
At least 135 Northern American tribes have been documented as integrating alternative
gender roles. A complex sex/gender system was found “in every region of the continent,
among every type of Native culture, from the small bands of hunters in Alaska to the
populous, hierarchical city-states in Florida.”
“Strange country this,” a white man wrote in 1850 about the Crow nation
of North America, “where males assume the dress and perform the duties of
females, while women turn men and mate with their own sex!”
The term adopted in 1990 at an Indigenous lesbian and gay international
gathering is two-spirits.
French missionary Joseph Francois Lafitau revealed that those Native peoples did not share his prejudice. “They
believe they are honored. The community shares their belief.” he wrote in 1724
For the Native LGBT who seeks life in a city for anonymity, the experience
can be far more negative than staying within their home community. Like
most natives reared in a tribal community, Native LGBT retain pride in their
identity, where they are from and who are their relatives. Living in a city
can unfortunately give a sense of alienation that is both physical
and emotional. Native LGBT individuals often grieve their
separation from family and community when they are unaccepted in
a city because of their lifestyle as well as being a Native.
This experience results in a
double discrimination for
Native LGBT instead of the
desired anonymity. Which
explains why Christos was
in so much pain growing
up in a diverse, but
in 1975, just a few years after the Stonewall
riots in New York, Barbara Cameron co-
founded Gay American Indians with activist
Randy Burns. Shortly after, Chrystos became
acquainted and then the best of friends with
this benevolent guardian of gay culture.
Cameron's refusal to be queer in one
corner of her life, and native in another,
is as radical and transformative now, as
it was then. In an interview with The
Gully, Chrystos, credits her with "giving
me a sense of dignity about my place
in the world, and my right to be in
"We not only must
struggle with the
racism and homophobia
of straight white
America, but must
often struggle with
the homophobia that
exists within our
Both fighting for FREEDOM to marry, have kids, and live with choices and options that were
not chosen by anyone other than themselves. And most importantly to be able to be speak out
about things they did not agree with.
As a famous lgbt
women of color
Cited by tons
Today, gay and lesbian couples won their right
to marry. Today, love wins. I hope Chrystos
is smiling wherever she is lecturing
• Early life
• Native American
notion of gender
• Gay marriage legalized
A to z American indian women
Lady of Labyrinth blog
Daily Kos website
NativeOUT Randy Burns Website
Where "Something Catches": Work, Love, and Identity in Youth
The Gully website
The Whitehouse website
Facts on File website
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