Learn to tolerate diverse lifestyles

Ever since I was a child I have been always been taught to respect our culture, our language, our people, our ceremonies and my role as a woman in our Navajo society just to name a few.

Today our society has changed in so many ways; we have become extremely acculturated and assimilated into mainstream Western society that our cultural values, ethics and morals have been greatly overshadowed, if not completely altered. Though I have learned the ways of the "White Man" and have learned to walk their path, my heart and soul remains loyal to my Navajo roots.

It is by means of ceremonies that I was able to attend college and achieve my educational goals. I return to DinŽtah as often as I can for ceremonies and to renew my spiritual connection with the Earth and to maintain my cultural sense of place and belonging. In essence, we all return to DinŽtah have our prayers heard by the Creator in our sacred space of the universe.

I am extremely disappointed that our elected tribal officials have forced their own personal agendas upon the DinŽ and have once again failed to recognize that we, (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) people are citizens of this sovereign nation just as much as other DinŽ people are. Not only are we victims of physical violence, but now we have become victims of the DinŽ tribal government's prejudice, discrimination and ignorance.

Recently, this was officially established and recognized worldwide, through the DinŽ tribal government's passage of the prohibition of same-sex marriage. As DinŽ people, we now have become the oppressors of our own tribal people.

As much as we pride ourselves as citizens of this great Navajo Nation and living in the country, which prides itself as being the home of the brave--the United States, why is it that we continue to allow ignorance to breed violence on people who simply desire to live the American Dream just like everyone else?

Our country continues to cast out those who do not fit into the obtainable perfect model often portrayed on television. We, as DinŽ, are now on the same road as our oppressors!

People turn off your televisions and start thinking for yourself. Rise up, take a stand, make a difference and fight for what is right, respect for self, for others, and respect for our cultural values and morals. We morn for our displaced culture and our language, now is the time to a make difference. If not now, when will we do it? Until they are gone, when our grandchildren have to learn of their tribal DinŽ heritage from books? We need to take ownership of our culture, our language, our history and our past.

I urge everyone to teach tolerance of the differences that exist beyond the borders of the reservation. I make an urgent call to other GLBT community members and their allies to educate and organize. Please join this new listserv http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lgbt_dine so that we can begin to network with each other and support one another's efforts. The wonderful folks at NativeOUT.com have created this listserv.

Thank you to Jennifer Denetdale, PhD, Assistant Professor of History at the University of New Mexico and Wesley Thomas, PhD, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University for their contribution to this editorial.

Tomasina Grey

Albuquerque, N.M.

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