Two Spirits

My friend Gregory Hinton’s remarks at the West Hollywood One City One Pride screening of the film Two Spirits presented by his creation, OUT WEST. Thought-provoking and amazing enough to share them with you here. Please pass them along to others. This is a remarkable film about a beautiful part of our heritage, often overlooked in modern culture.


Two Spirits

Remarks by Gregory Hinton

Creator and Producer of Out West

West Hollywood One City One Pride

June 28, 2010

West Hollywood, California

Thank you, Councilmember Horvath for your generous introduction. Welcome all!  Before we screen the film, with the permission of our filmmakers, I’d like to tell you a bit about Out West.

Out West is an educational program series dedicated to shine a light on the contributions of our community to the history and culture of the American West.  I have been privileged to develop Out West with my founding partner, the Autry National Center.

Tonight, Out West has a new friend – the City of West Hollywood. I am so grateful to the City Council, the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission and its wonderful staff, the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board, and the Transgender Advisory Board for including Two Spirits in their 25th One City One Pride program series.   I hope it is the first of many Out West collaborations.

In one short year, we’ve presented two very successful Out West programs at the Autry, with two more planned for the fall and winter. On July 24th, the Autry is celebrating the National Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl. Their website has the details. Representing the Autry here are my friends Joan Cumming, Senior Director of Marketing and Marlene Head, editor of the Autry’s Convergence Magazine.

Tom Gregory, HBO, Tim Gill, and James Hormel were our first responders.  Our friends at GLAAD and HRC have supported us from day one.

Seated in this theater tonight, are western scholars, authors, musicians, artists, and filmmakers all working on books, songs, paintings, and films to further Out West’s objective of dispelling the notion that there is no place for our community in the American West.  You’ll be hearing more about them very soon.

I myself was born on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, in the remote northeastern corner of Montana.  My wonderful brother Scott was also gay.  We skipped rocks on the Missouri River, near the same banks where Lewis and Clark made camp with Sacagawea.

We later moved south to Cody, Wyoming, founded by Buffalo Bill.  We routinely attended rodeos and powwows. Yellowstone Park was our backyard.  It was a wonderful, magical childhood. It was a time when children wandered, and mothers expected their safe return.

It is for this reason that I am devoted to the mission of Out West. Times have changed since my brother and I were boys.  Born in rural communities, many of us feel forced to leave our families behind to move to the city in search of identity, companionship, and safety.

That said, happily, not everybody leaves. And some of us return. And some of us, city born, visit the American West, like what we see and move there. I encourage everyone sitting in this theater tonight to take your families on a car trip through the American West.  It will change your perspective. It has changed my life.

The American West – its art, its history and vast natural resources – belongs to everyone.  Its stewardship cannot – must not – be left in the hands of those who would restrict our community’s right to the pursuit of happiness openly and without fear.

The rights and freedoms afforded us by the vision, vigilance, and hard work of the leaders of West Hollywood are far from the realities of our sister communities in the rural West.  Missoula recently became the first Montana city to adopt anti-discrimination laws to protect our community.  Opposing forces – including the father of a young Lesbian who pushed it through – have now filed suit to overturn it.

It is my hope that national organizations will step up efforts to support our country family, which often feels marginalized because its numbers are few.  And perhaps through Out West, urban communities such as West Hollywood might become “sister cities” with their rural western counterparts: Laramie, Bozeman, and Boise.

The city and the country have a lot to catch up on.  We have much to teach each other. To protect our rural kids, and our rural elders, our community must be visible, like a porch light streaming into the western night sky.

And now, to Lydia and Russell, the filmmakers of Two Spirits, thank you for your advocacy by flipping on the switch.

Two Spirits is the story of Fred Martinez, a Navajo boy who was also a girl. It is also the story of Pauline Mitchell, the mother who loved him, who prayed every night for his safe return.

It speaks to the prescience of the Navajo culture.  Imagine a time where Two Spirit children were adored, their talents cultivated, their spirits revered.

The World Premiere of Two Spirits was sponsored by the Matthew Shepard Foundation in Denver.  I recently told Judy Shepard that in addition to experiencing bias as a gay man, I have also experienced bias as a rural westerner. I asked her if Matt loved Wyoming. Judy told me he stayed in Laramie because it was home and he loved the out of doors.

The love of mothers and courage of sons astonishes.

Stay home if you want. Be who you are. This is the mission of Out West.

And now, Two Spirits.

Following the fifty minute screening, producer Russell Martin will speak to us and introduce Lydia Nibley, the director. After remarks from Lydia, our honored guest Dr. Wesley Thomas, Dean of Humanities, and renowned Native American Two Spirit authority from Arizona’s Dine College will be introduced, with a Q & A and reception to follow.

The West belongs to everyone.  It’s our history, too.   Thank you, West Hollywood!

One comment on “Two Spirits

  1. […] talked about this remarkable film before. My friend and collaborator Gregory Hinton gave an excellent introduction to the film when it was […]


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