Pride 2014: Two-spirited (LGBT) people still face struggles in aboriginal communities

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      At the Pride flag-raising ceremony held at Vancouver City Hall on July 28, Stewart Gonzales, a two-spirited member of the Musqeam and Squamish First Nations, conducted a blessing by singing the Coast Salish national anthem.

      Here is a brief clip of his powerful performance.

      He also took the opportunity to speak about the ongoing struggles that aboriginal two-spirited (LGBT) people continue to face in communities across North America.

      He compared them to the LGBT refugees that had been the topic of a panel discussion held earlier that morning in the Vancouver City Hall council chambers.

      "I heard in council this morning how the refugees across this beautiful Mother Earth are being challenged based on their sexuality," he said. "That's no different than what's happening within our own First Nations communities.

      "We, as two-spirited people, are still segregated," he continued. "We don't apply for housing. We don't qualify for housing within our own communities. That forces a lot of us to move into the urban areas and we, too, are the same as the refugees who are struggling in this world to just exist, free of harm, free of discrimination, free of violence."

      Two-spirit people will participate in the annual Vancouver Pride parade on Sunday (August 3) as well as the Trans, Two-Spirit, and Genderqueer Liberation and Celebration March on Friday (August 1).