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Layton, L. (1998). Was We'Wha a Homosexual? W. Roscoe. GLQ. II, 1995. Pp. 103-235. Psychoanal Q., 67(2):343-344.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Was We'Wha a Homosexual? W. Roscoe. GLQ. II, 1995. Pp. 103-235

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(2):343-344

Was We'Wha a Homosexual? W. Roscoe. GLQ. II, 1995. Pp. 103-235

Lynne Layton

Roscoe, a cultural historian of the Zuni “two-spirit” We'Wha, was asked if We'Wha was a homosexual. Roscoe's concern is that the constriction of “homosexual” to same-sex love has made contemporaries unable to see links between themselves and these non-Western ancestors who conceived of themselves as third and fourth gender beings. The article examines the cross-influence between “two spirits,” European explorers who lived among them and catalogued their existence,

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and European discourses that drew on the ethnographies for various purposes (the moral discourse that justified conquest on the basis of inferiority; the discourse that saw the two-spirits as monsters or prodigies; the medical-scientific discourse of the mid- and late nineteenth century that understood them as examples of disease). Roscoe's thesis is that cultural influences between Native Americans and Europeans always go both ways. Thus, those who first used the term “homosexuality” in nineteenth century discourses were not only aware of “two-spirits” but cited and, in some cases, agreed with their self-conceptualizations, which focused on third gender status and not on desiring sex with one's own gender. On reviewing homosexual activism, we see again an expansion of gender categories; therapeutic discourse might this time around refrain from pathologizing and instead allow for a multiplicity that goes beyond male or female.

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Article Citation

Layton, L. (1998). Was We'Wha a Homosexual?. Psychoanal. Q., 67(2):343-344

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