What stood out for me from the beginning was the strong representation of Queer, Trans & gender non-binary folx in attendance, including myself. There were many moments I recall from our time that, in my opinion, led to mutual understanding and growth edges, safe space to be one’s authentic self and opportunities for allies to carry the labor of advocating for Queer/Trans/non-binary visibility at the Gathering. What stands out for me, personally, began our first night with the sweat lodge when we were instructed that women go in first, then men. Feeling the crux here and the support and opportunity to arrive in this sacred space empowered. Following the women & leading the men, landing in the hottest “seat” in the circle, with grace, humility and strength, set the tone for my time at All Nations. Learning from the Creation Story that the Half Moon is traditionally the time when Two-Spirit members hold ceremony was special to hear. And recognizing that the Lakota people, just like some cis settlers, are open and learning a language that does not erase the visibility of the community members that do not fall into the binary of brother or sister, but that we are all kin. And finally, those cis comrades that went to the table to advocate when erasure was happening, I am eternally grateful. With all that said, reflecting on our follow up call when Becky told us that those Two Spirit community members of Pine Ridge that were in attendance at the Gathering shared that they felt “seen” and saw others “like me”, meant the world to me and lots of relief & joy. A testament to not only those of us showing up authentically but a direct reflection to how our cis friends, mentors & elders elevated our presence and voices.
Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge the courage it takes for those of us who show up in these spaces that still, despite best intentions, face language, history & structures that are visibly binary. Advocating for our visibility to be spoken, incorporated into stories & weaved into ways we move forward in our gatherings is the hope. That the labor is carried by all of us- honoring our ancestors & future generations with clarity, kindness & kinship for all of the YPW family.