I got to be the special party-guest on Romance Author Hotspot! Thanks, Clarissa Yip, for having me!!
Two-Spirits and Third Gender
For years I’ve been fascinated with a reference to androgyny that’s most often attributed to Native American cultures. Given that most of what seeps into mainstream knowledge about indigenous traditions is wrong, I’m willing to stand corrected on this one, as well. However, from what I’ve studied, within some tribes is what’s called a “two-spirit” path, or biogendered men who take on the role of women. Other indigenous cultures have observed such a third, or between-gender role, as well. Two-spirits are usually considered deeply intuitively gifted and rise as spiritual leaders in their culture. Not considered male, though not exactly female either, they carry the duties usually ascribed women and may marry a man in their tribe.
In my newly released short story, Traveler Through Darkness, from Decadent Publishing’s The Edge series, I envisioned Wo, a young Navajo man, as a two-spirit. While he’s not decked out in a corset and stilettos (although it could happen), he’s very clearly embraced aspects himself that are both out-and-proud, is wise beyond his youth, and is comfortable with being an empowered, effeminate man in a patriarchal culture. In contrast, he meets the older Tarik, a Middle Eastern man from a culture fatally against homosexuality, let alone the blurring of biogender roles.
They’re a good fit for each other—this very traditional man suppressing deep-seated desires, and Wo, the two-spirit who helps him acknowledge them. Their joining, itself, expresses how we can all overcome limitations, push beyond boundaries, into new, undefined territory.
What are your thoughts on third gender? Are there possibly more genders? How would you describe them?
A lifetime of want collides with fate the night of Tarik’s bachelor party, fulfilling his deepest secret desire—only it’s not with the strippers his Arab friends hired to cater to his every whim. Uncomfortable with the debauched festivities, Tarik ducks out of the soirée, stumbling into Wo, a kind Navajo artist, who forces him to say what he really wants, then gives it to him, all night.
Enjoy Traveler Through Darkness along with the Reader’s Guide!
Originally published on Romance Author Hotspot, 31 August 2012.
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