Regarded as the first organization of its kind, Gay American Indians (GAI) was established in San Francisco in 1975 at the height of gay liberation. Founded by Barbara Cameron (1954-2002) and Randy Burns, GAI initially was a social club for queer American Indians who often felt unwelcome in the LGBTQ community due to prejudice and in American Indian organizations due to homophobia. The group went on to reclaim tribal traditions honoring two-spirit people who embraced mixed gender identities and roles.
The archives of the GLBT Historical Society hold a small number of collections of organizational records and personal papers documenting GAI and other two-spirit groups and individuals. Among the most significant:
In addition, our Periodicals Collection includes a handful of scarce newsletters and zines reflecting American Indian experience, culture and organizing: B.A.A.I.T-S: Newsletter of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (2000); Buffalo Hide (1993); Seasons: The Native American AIDS Prevention Center Quarterly (1989-1991); and Two-Spirit News (1996).
To learn more about the GLBT Historical Society’s collections on American Indians, search our online archives catalog. We’re committed to further documenting the history and culture of two-spirit people in Northern California; if you have materials you might wish to donate, email our managing archivist, Joanna Black.
Gerard Koskovich is communications director at the GLBT Historical Society.