Indigenous LGBTQ+2S Youth Celebrate Pride

By: Chance Rush, Hidatsa, Arapaho, Dakota, Oneida, & Otoe, Cloudboy Consulting,  LLC

I had the privilege to moderate and go into great detail with four amazing guests whom did an outstanding job shedding light on so much information and encouraging Native youth of the LGBTQ+2S community to love who they are and celebrate life. What I enjoyed about this webinar is that each panelist shared that whatever your lifestyle is, it is normal. I love that they stated that we all must be treated as humans and how important it is to always be yourself in this amazing thing we call life. My guests during this webinar were Tyson Johnston, Sherenté Harris, Somáh Haaland, and Nate Lemuel. A great collaboration and conversation with some bright and very talented activists.

I will start with Tyson because I have had the privilege of watching him grow and develop from a young teenager into a great and passionate leader as Vice-Chairman of the Quinault Indian Nation. While I moderated the session, I could hear what I’ve always known about Tyson, that he was encouraging the listeners to be themselves and always show compassion and love to each other and when you do so you will always be respected and called upon. He went on to share that he is proud of who he is as a tribal leader and remains active in the Two-Spirited community and will always advocate for equality and community together for a stronger Quinault Indian Nation.

Like Tyson, I also had the honor to work with Sherenté Harris when I visited the Narragansett Tribe in the fall of 2019. I remember at that time being impressed by their ability to speak and share their experiences and the same is true for the recent webinar. Sherenté and their siblings have always been active and encouraging and I felt that in the webinar. They went on to talk about how their culture and traditional ways played a huge part in being proud to advocate for the Two-Spirited community, not just in Rhode Island but around the country. Sherenté has a deep passion for Native Youth and will always encourage them to love and be themselves because their life and self-care belongs to them. They owe their success to their traditional ways and being alcohol and drug-free.

I then moved on to speaking with Somàh Haaland and was very impressed with her resume at such a young age. Even with her mother being Congresswoman Haaland of New Mexico, Somah has established herself as being an impressive leader in her own right. She spoke with grace and clarity and expressed how being Queer is normal and takes pride in who she is. She talked about having a better understanding because she is herself in all she wants to accomplish. I appreciate that she wanted to build her own path and legacy through art, film, and community outreach in tribal communities. Somàh is a very bright person and I was fortunate to get to know her during this webinar.

Finally, I enjoyed visiting with the dynamic photographer Nate Lemuel who was recently featured on the Emmy nominated HBO series, ‘We’re Here’. I was impressed with his all-around talent as a visual artist, designer, and photographer. During this pandemic, Nate is deeply involved with the fight against COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation. He is leading the way in seeking donations and bringing awareness through the lens. In the webinar, he shared that being himself got him through his upbringing and gave him the confidence to be who he is today. He certainly is a focused individual and takes pride in his craft and his people. You could tell, like the other three guests, that his gifts aren’t about him but for the greater good for others.

To be honest I learned a lot from these four individuals about being yourself to serve others and to use your talents for growth because we all have a purpose. It was a great honor to moderate this session and I know it was appreciated by the listeners and Native Youth across the country. I personally know many individuals that feel discouraged about being who they are, but we must all remember we were put here on Mother Earth to share our talents and do great things exactly as we are.

Chance serves as a consultant to tribes and organizations in reference to business, community outreach, staff trainings, and curriculum development.  His passion for strengthening Native communities combined with his experiences led him to the development of Cloudboy Consulting,  LLC. Chance travels throughout the United States and Canada to work with Native communities in efforts to inspire, heal, motivate, and energize. He has a talent for using his energy and humor to spread a simple message, “Use your personal talents to lead you to greatness.” He promotes healthy living and lives his life alcohol and drug free.