The Queer Community In The Navajo Nation

Buffalo Barbie points to a hard hat she wore during one her many construction jobs. The lack of an LBGT community and sparse employment opportunities around her home force her to look for short-term work in more concentrated areas away from the reservation.

 

Videographer and Photographer Jeremy Meek is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From the project ‘Isolation On The Reservation’.  To see Jeremy’s body of work, click on any image.

 

Lady Shug grew up on and off of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. She competed in and won Miss New Mexico Pride 2016. Lady Shug is one of the most prominent and outspoken members of the Navajo Nation’s transgender community.

 

Lady Shug getting ready for a performance at West Colorado Pride. She performed almost every weekend as part of her Miss New Mexico Pride duties and advocacy efforts in the transgender community.

 

Tyson in Wheatfields, AZ where he lives alone in a trailer near his parent’s home. Like many young gay Navajo men, Tyson began dating in the border towns of the reservation, the nearest on roughly 70 miles from his home.

 

Travis, who goes by the nickname Buffalo Barbie, at her home in Teec Noc Pos, AZ. She identifies with both genders and switches depending on the circumstance.

 

The Navajo Nation stands at a complicated intersection of traditional life, colonial values, and conflicting notions of gender and sexuality. It’s traditional gender construct accommodated for the nadleeh (third gender persons) before the cultural devastation that accompanied the colonial era. The size and remoteness of the reservation in this context has resulted in a deep sense of isolation for its members, and that sense is felt even more intensely in its queer community.

 

Joe hitchhikes roughly 70 miles between her and her girlfriend’s home every few days. She came out to her family after graduating high school and has since faced rejection from her father and brother.

 

Lola gets ready backstage for a performance during Gay Prom. She began participating in drag shows 11 years ago as a way to make friends and get out of the house.

 

Kalvin, a recent Navajo Prep graduate. He hasn’t felt the need to hide his sexuality at school, and feels that his generation is more open.

 

All images and text © Jeremy Meek

 

 

See also:

Faces of Development

By Jeremy Meek

 

 

 

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