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PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
PHILOSOPHY BY REGION
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WHAT IS GAY AND LESBIAN PHILOSOPHY
What is Gay and Lesbian Philosophy? (And Who’s Writing It?)
August 18, 2010 thracianmaid3 Comments
In 2008, a piece appeared in Metaphilosophy titled “What is Gay and Lesbian Philosophy?” The article was co-written by six philosophers, and addressed “recent trends and major issues related to gay and lesbian philosophy” in ethics, religion, law, scientific research on sexuality, and metaphysics. It was also commissioned by officers of the Society for Lesbian and Gay Philosophy and the APA’s committee on the status of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People in the Profession.
The piece (or pieces – it’s really six articles in one) starts from the premise that gay and lesbian philosophy is not a field of philosophy, like ethics or metaphysics, but a ‘subject matter’ relevant to any number of philosophical fields. And the six short articles demonstrate this point by covering a wide range of topics: the morality of homosexuality; the ethics of coming out and outing others; the legal history of homosexuality and same-sex unions in the states; the social construction of sexual identity and orientation; homosexuality and monotheistic religions; and whether sexuality (and homosexuality) should be the subjects of scientific research. It’s a great survey piece, and a useful resource for teaching, or for convincing colleagues that LGBT issues really do ‘count’ as sufficiently philosophical.
But to anyone versed in the feminist literature, there are some startling omissions – most obviously, the complete absence of lesbian-feminist writings in both the article’s content and in its citations. Familiar names like Marilyn Frye, Ann Ferguson, Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Monique Wittig, Claudia Card and Cheshire Calhoun are nowhere to be found, and neither are their insights. This is astonishing, given how much these figures have contributed to exactly the questions being asked: the social construction of gender and sexuality, the ethics of coming out or outing others, the ethics of sex and sexualities, and the legal status of same-sex unions and families. And although the papers’ authors claim that ‘gay’ should be understood as shorthand for LGBT, there is no attention to how these topics are complicated by bi and especially by trans perspectives, and equally little citation of recent trans writings. It’s hard not to connect these lacunae to some other problematic features – for example, calling same-sex marriages ‘homosexual marriages’, when not all same-sex marriages are between homosexuals but also bisexuals and other queer persons (neither are all opposite-sex marriages between heterosexuals, for that matter) – and to the fact that all the paper’s authors appear to be men.
How concerned should we be that something taking itself to be an answer to the question, “what is gay and lesbian philosophy?” pays so little attention to the debates and insights of lesbian-feminist philosophy? Can debates around homosexual identities (often, gay male identities) simply be extended to include lesbians, bisexuals and trans persons without transformation or adjustment? These are familiar, and by now, surely, old questions – a survey piece might reasonably be expected to address them. And what of the authors’ genders? The idea of doing critical philosophy, like the philosophy of sexuality, race, or disability, is presumably something more than an identity claim about the author – but if critical epistemology has taught us anything, it’s that the subject-position of the author is never entirely irrelevant, either. What gay and lesbian philosophy is may well depend on who is (seen to be) writing it.
Critical Work: Books
Badger (Reaktion Books, 2015).
The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature, co-edited with James H. Cox (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History (University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
Critical Work: Essays
“Indigenous Writing,” The World of Indigenous North America, ed. Robert Warrior (Routledge, 2015).
“Indigenous Peoples’ Writing in Canada,” The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, ed. Ato Quayson (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
“‘To Look upon Thousands’: Cherokee Transnationalism, at Home and Abroad,” in The New Centennial Review 10.1 (Spring 2010).
“Notes Toward a Theory of Anomaly,” GLQ 16.1-2 (2010).
“‘Go away water!’: Kinship Criticism and the Decolonization Imperative,” in Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008).
“Renewing the Fire: Notes Toward the Liberation of English Studies,” in English Studies in Canada 29.1-2 (March/June 2003).
“We’re Not There Yet, Kemo Sabe: Positing a Future for American Indian Literary Studies” in American Indian Quarterly 25.2 (Spring 2001).
The Way of Thorn and Thunder: The Kynship Chronicles, revised omnibus edition of the Way of Thorn and Thunder trilogy (Kynship, Wyrwood, and Dreyd, all published by Kegedonce Press in Canada), University of New Mexico Press, 2011.
ENGL 227 002 (3) Prose Fiction
Please contact the UBC English Department for more information on this course at (604) 822-5122.
FNIS 100 001 (3) Indigenous Foundations
FNIS 100 will introduce the social, historical, political, religious, and philosophical contexts that inform the experiences of many Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada and throughout North America, with attention to global Indigenous concerns. Emphasis will be on the ways Indigenous peoples have engaged with and challenged colonialism through cultural resurgence and revitalization, education, artistic production, self-government, and culturally responsive economic development, and will include guest speakers, films, and community engagement activities.
FNIS 401Q 101 (3) Queer/Two-Spirit Indigenous Studies
This course considers the cultural contexts, scholarship, literature, and artistic expressions of queer/LGBT/two-spirited Indigenous people, both as an academic area of study and as lived experience and relationship. Drawing on Indigenous traditions of gender and sexual diversity, two-spirit political activism, and relevant research, and engaging Indigenous and intersectional feminisms, queer/LGBT and gender studies, and Indigenous Studies more broadly, we will undertake a deep engagement of the interventions, complications, and provocations in this area and what’s at stake in doing this work. Students are encouraged to have some familiarity with queer/gender studies, Indigenous Studies, and/or intersectional scholarship, but at minimum should be curious, thoughtful, and willing to learn and listen to often under-represented voices both in and beyond the classroom.
~Prerequisites: One of FNSP 200, 210, 220, or FNIS 210, 220, or third-year standing
FNIS 533Q 101 (3) Queer/Two-Spirit Indigenous Studies
If you are a graduate student who is interested in taking this course, follow our standard graduate registration instructions here: http://fnis.arts.ubc.ca/graduate-courses/
HUMANS SHOULD WORK HARDER ON BEING GAY
(as in the old meaning of the word).
I like to see people dance, smile and laugh. Authentic laughter and joy can only be achieved when one is truly oneself, and I think that is the leadership that is being provided to us by the Two Spirited leadership traditional to many Indigenous communities. Two spirits - one heart - and celebrate all of us! Great words, actions and feelings that honor the dignity of the human soul, spirit and body.
Two spirited, berdaches, and other forms of traditional expressions of same sex attraction, souls which are inconsistent with their bodies, bisexual attraction and so on need to be looked at and understood within the context of traditional indigenous culture which is not homogenous but specific to indigenous cultural groups. As the two spirited leadership is re-emerging after 500 years of oppression from western (and other forces), poetry, song, wisdom and "indigenous philosophy" is re-emerging to take back its place amongst our peoples in our time and our context. Bravo.
This section of the website is devoted to finding, exploring, and trying to understand truth and wisdom from the perspective of those who bring it to us. "Gay philosophy" in the mainstream is a good example of why this discussion is important.
SEXUALITY OFTEN AN EXPRESSION OF SHAMANISM OR MEDICINE CAPACITIES IN TRADITIONAL INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
BELOW the following Youtube videos give a good background in which to contextualize your understanding of two spirited ontology or metaphysics Youtube is great starting point to study this indigenous reality.
Daniel Heath Justice is a Colorado-born Canadian citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He received his B.A. from the University of Northern Colorado and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before coming to UBC, he spent ten years as a faculty member in the Department of English at the University of Toronto, where he was also an affiliate of the Aboriginal Studies Program.
Daniel currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture. He is the author of Our Fire Survives the Storm: A Cherokee Literary History and numerous essays in the field of Indigenous literary studies, as well as co-editor of a number of critical and creative anthologies and journals, including The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature (with James H. Cox) and the award-winning Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature (with Qwo-Li Driskill, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti). He is also the author of Badger in the celebrated Animal series from Reaktion Books (UK).
2015 marks the tenth publication anniversary of the first volume in Daniel’s Indigenous epic fantasy series, The Way of Thorn and Thunder, which was published under that title in an omnibus edition in 2011. His current projects include Why Indigenous Literatures Matter, a literary manifesto forthcoming from Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2016, a collection of essays and short stories titled Imagining Otherwise: Reflections on Indigenous Belonging and Desire, as well as a new dark fantasy trilogy, a cultural history of raccoons, and a critical monograph on other-than-human kinship in Indigenous writing.
In the new book Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration editors Robert Innes and Kim Anderson show the social attitudes and issues related to the complex idea of being an Indigenous man. In Canada, Indigenous men have shorter life spans, are less likely to graduate from high school, are more likely to be incarcerated, and are murdered at a higher ratecompared to non-Indigenous Canadians.
It's not an easy topic for people both within and outside of Indigenous communities to talk about. It's not an easy topic to do an interview about either.
Innes is a Plains Cree member of Cowessess First Nation and an assistant professor in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. He explained that he was teaching a class last year when former Aboriginal Affairs (now called Indigenous and Northern Affairs) Minister Bernard Valcourt told a gathering of First Nations chiefs that they knew who was killing Indigenous women: Indigenous men. Innes said he brought the issue up to his class, and the students, all Indigenous, said they had also faced violence in their lives but they were afraid to talk about the implications of the statistic.
"They said we don't want to talk about this because it will reinforce negative stereotypes of Native men. So there's this real reluctance to wanting to deal with this because the reality is, especially in Western Canada, white people are afraid of Native men," Innes said.
To find out why exploring Indigenous masculinity is such a difficult task, VICE spoke with Innes and contributor Robert Henry (in separate interviews). Henry is Métis, and while working on his PhD research explored the relationship between Indigenous male youth and street gangs, which is also the topic he explores in the book.