elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Barbara May Cameron & Lynda Boyd

Barbara May Cameron (May 22, 1954 - February 12, 2002) was a lesbian Native American activist and writer.

Born May 22, 1954 in Fort Yates, North Dakota, Cameron was raised on the Standing Rock Reservation by her grandparents. According to her partner, Lynda Boyd, at age 9 she read an article about San Francisco and told her grandmother that one day she would live there "and save the world, too." She did her best to fulfill her promise.

After two years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she attended the American Indian Art Institute, majoring in photography and film after high school, she moved to San Francisco. There, in 1975, just a few years after the Stonewall riots in New York, she co-founded Gay American Indians with activist Randy Burns.

At the time, "it was just about impossible to stand up and say who you were. If you had a job you'd get fired. Your family might disown you. You certainly would be ridiculed," recalled Maurice Kenny in "Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America."

Cameron's refusal to be queer in one corner of her life, and native in another, is as radical and transformative now, as it was then. In an interview with The Gully, Chrystos, a Native American poet and activist, and long-time friend of Cameron, credits her with "giving me a sense of dignity about my place in the world, and my right to be in that place."

Barbara May Cameron by Robert Giard
Barbara May Cameron was a Native American activist and writer. Cameron was raised on the Standing Rock Reservation. According to her partner, Lynda Boyd, at age 9 she read an article about San Francisco and told her grandmother that one day she would live there "and save the world, too." She did her best to fulfill her promise. She died in San Francisco and was brought to her final rest at Wakpala, on Standing Rock. She is survived by Linda Boyd, her partner of 21 years, and their son Rhys.

American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Being both gay and Native American put Cameron in conflict almost everywhere she was. In "Gee, You Don't Seem Like an Indian From the Reservation," Cameron wrote, "We not only must struggle with the racism and homophobia of straight white America, but must often struggle with the homophobia that exists within our third-world communities."

Even in gay communities of color she sometimes felt on the outside as a Native American. "Racism among third world people is an area that needs to be discussed and dealt with honestly," she wrote. "We form alliances loosely based on the fact that we have a common oppressor, yet we do not have a commitment to talk about our own fears and misconceptions about each other."

Cameron, committed to breaking the silence, still managed to be "very respectful of other people even when she disagreed with them," as Chrystos remembered. That gracefulness in the face of disagreement made her a successful organizer and bridge-builder on a number of fronts, from San Francisco's Lesbian Gay Freedom Day Parade and Celebration to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, on whose behalf she was a delegate to the 1988 Democratic National Convention.

She was mayoral appointee to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and the Commission on the Status of Women, and supported the efforts of women working to improve life in Nicaragua, as well as the international indigenous AIDS network.

Barbara Cameron died at home in San Francisco on February 12, 2002, and was brought to her final rest at Wakpala, South Dakota, on Standing Rock. She is survived by Linda Boyd, her partner of 20 years, their son, Rhys, and a large network of family and friends. A book of her writings and photos is in progress.

Source: http://www.thegully.com/essays/gaymundo/020313_barbara_cameron.html (Remembering Barbara Cameron by Kelly Cogswell)

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher

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Tags: activist: barbara may cameron, days of love, particular voices

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