I stumbled on the film “Two Spirits” while searching Valley venues for upcoming events. It’s being shown Thurs, June 16, at 6:30pm at the Mesa Arts Center — a free presentation of City of Mesa Community Cinema.
The film explores the life and death of Fred Martinez, “a boy who was also a girl,” and considers the spiritual nature of sexuality within American Indian culture. Martinez was murdered, the victim of a hate crime, when he as just 16 years old.
The film is also being shown on PBS starting this week, as part of the “Independent Lens” series — though I suspect that seeing it screened in a community setting makes for a much more powerful experience.
The “Two Spirits” website links to all sorts of resources related to gender identity, sexuality and spirituality — suggesting ways people needing help can find it, and connecting people who want to help with ways of doing so. It’s also got a great reading list.
It includes “The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Other Identities” — an anthology of original essays, poems and true stories written by young adults in their teens and early 20s. It’s edited by David Levinthal and Billy Merrell.
Judy Shepard, president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation created to honor her 21-year old son after his 1998 murder, describes “Two Spirits” as “a beautiful film.”
“Fred Martinez was murdered,” says Shepard, “simply because he dared to be himself, and the violence against young people like him must stop. We will never be the society we hope to be until we replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.”
Note: While surfing the “Two Spirits” website, I learned of another film — titled “Blessing.” It’s described as “a Gay Mormon film in conjunction with Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons.” To learn more about the early history of the American gay rights movement, watch the PBS “American Experience” piece titled “Stonewall Uprising.” Also check out this book recommended by Project Q in Atlanta: “A Scout is Brave” by Greg Novak–in which “A Native American is bullied at a Boy Scout summer camp as he faces his own sexuality and the traditions of his family.”
Coming up: New season announcements