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'We want visibility and honor' Two-Spirit Tulsans to celebrate with weekend festival

A flyer for the Two Spirit festival in Tulsa.
Twisted Arts
A flyer for the Two Spirit festival in Tulsa.

Twisted Arts, an organization that uplifts LGBTQ arts and artists, is hosting a two-day festival in Tulsa that will showcase Two-Spirit Native American artists from Oklahoma and beyond.

Kevin Lovelace, one of the founders of Twisted Arts, said after moving back to Tulsa, he noticed there wasn't really a festival for LGBTQ Tulsans.

"So I was like, well, let's start one just for fun, you know, and needed something to do," Lovelace recalled.

The inaugural Two-Spirit Festival is this weekend in Tulsa-the tagline: An Indigiqueer Celebration. It will feature a lineup of entertainment, music and a drag show with performer Landa Lakes.

Chickasaw drag performer Landa Lakes
Twisted Arts
Chickasaw drag performer Landa Lakes

Lakes is a Chickasaw writer, musician, activist and artist who is originally from Oklahoma but currently lives in San Francisco. Lakes derives her name from the Land O'Lakes label that once featured a young Native woman holding up a tray of butter.

The second day of the festival will feature an exhibition and panel on Indigiqueer arts.

Osage performer Marx will be singing new singles from their forthcoming album 2S Sacred. They along with eight other Indigenous artists will be performing as part of a festival that has the goal of giving more visibility to LGBTQ Native Americans, who use the term Two-Spirit to identify themselves.

Marx remembers a time when talking about being Two-Spirit was taboo in the Native community. Now, they're seeing more events like this one in Tulsa.

"Two-Spirit people are really wanting visibility-for their existence to be honored and to be known."

Earlier this year, Marx debuted the first single from their forthcoming album titled How Long, about a young Two-Spirit person struggling with belonging. They said the single was inspired by just how many young, queer people contemplate taking their own lives. Today, Marx said there is more space in the community for Two-Spirit people, but there is still more work to do.

At the festival, two members of the community will be honored: John Hawk Co-Cke, retired certified prevention specialist for behavioral health in Oklahoma and identifies as transgender and Two-Spirited and Tony Staton, another activist working to elevate Two-Spirit people in Oklahoma and beyond.

The festival is being put on by Twisted Arts in Tulsa, an LGBTQ arts organization that got its start in 2020. The festival is on Saturday and Sunday at 101 Archer and WOMPA, an arts collective space.

Learn more about the lineup here.

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Allison Herrera covered Indigenous Affairs for KOSU from April 2020 to November 2023.
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