Breaking the Gender Binary: How this indigenous designer expresses his two-minded id

Given an industry that has historically ignored several aspects of its identity, two-spirit fashion designer Geronimo Louie, aka @geronimo.warrior on TikTok, is leveraging his design talent to celebrate its culture and demand a better representation of LGBTQ + and indigenous communities in fashion and beyond.

As an indigenous person of the Chiricahua Apache Band and the Navajo Nation, Geronimo identifies himself as both “indigenous queer” and “two-spirit”, an umbrella term that encompasses different identities in the Navajo gender spectrum, including female woman, male woman, female man , and male man. Historically, two-minded people within their tribes have played important roles as medicine women, medicine men, child carers, teachers, lawyers, and more. For Geronimo, his pronouns include he / him / his, but the pronouns of a two-mind individual can vary from person to person. In his design work, Geronimo is inspired by the traditional ribbons of the Ojibwe in Canada and integrates colorful designs into his pieces to underline the beauty and meaning of his identity in his clothing.

“We as indigenous queer people and two-spirit people have always been here.”

“I wanted to embrace more of my two-minded identity and one of the ways we are doing is to return to our cultural teachings and understandings as two-minded individuals because we are indigenous queer people and two-minded people it has always been here “, Geronimo told POPSUGAR of his choice of style. “At first I was really scared. I thought, ‘Oh my god, there is this man walking around wearing traditional women’s clothes.’ [about myself]. As I started to better understand my identity and my place in my community, to convey my values ​​of how sacred I am as a queer individual in my community – as sacred as everyone else – I began to feel more comfortable. “

Image source: TikTok

On TikTok, Geronimo describes the importance of his journey to overcoming internalized homophobia and toxic masculinity in dismantling the gender binary and encouraging others to do the same. “All in all, it comes down to your self-worth, your self-love and your self-image,” he said. “What other people have to say is their opinion. And at the end of the day you can listen to them or [not]. ”

Thinking of his favorite outfit, which he made in September as part of a personal challenge to create a new design every month in 2020, Geronimo drew a picture of a black dress with off-the-shoulder ruffle sleeves and a semi-sheer skirt adorned with glittering gold ribbons and high large flower cutouts. “[The dress]Basically, it’s a realistic version of how I imagine myself to be both feminine and masculine, “he said, adding that he was reusing leftovers from masks he made for the rose design on the skirt.” I wear really like it because it makes me feel very feminine. But at the same time I feel very strong and empowering. . . It was very touching [to create] because of the journey it went through – the time it took to collect all of these roses and place them on this piece. “

“Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a headband, earrings, something as small as turquoise, you need to know what that means.”

From classic to grunge, Geronimo’s style varies with his mood, but he always makes a point of incorporating traditional indigenous pieces into his outfits, including bow-tie skirts, velvet tops, turquoise jewelry, and silver embellishments, each of which has a special meaning in Navajo Culture. After studying the importance of various designs and fabrics, especially for traditional women’s clothing, Geronimo began encouraging people of all backgrounds to read up on the history of fashion trends before turning them into their own style. “Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a headband, earrings, or something as small as turquoise, you need to know what that means; You need to know why you are wearing it, ”he explained. “You don’t just wear these to look pretty. These actually have doctrines, historical meanings for us, and that is why we carry them. “

Outside of his videos, Geronimo also works closely with Diné Pride, an organization founded with the aim of providing resources for indigenous LGBTQ + people and showing that “we are still here as indigenous queer people”. “Diné Pride is an organization based here on the Navajo people’s reservation and we are coordinating [events] for our own queer indigenous people who identify as two-spirit, gay, lesbian, straight, etc., and we offer them science and voice support, “he said.

@ geronimo.warrior

For those who asked, here is my September outfit. 🖤

♬ Original sound – Sarah

As the youth leader of Diné Pride, Geronimo tries to offer indigenous members of the LGBTQ + community a safe space. “There are a lot of cultural misunderstandings that lead to overall misrepresentation in the LGBT community,” he said. “There is so much systemic racism, discrimination and homophobia that is being whipped [out] on people of color who identify as queer. So I’m a part of this organization to fight this situation and say, ‘No, we’re going to be here. We take a seat. ‘”

“I really hope people understand us [as Indigenous people] are no longer just here to exist. ”

By creating this space for Indigenous and LGBTQ + people, Geronimo also hopes that people of color will get the recognition they deserve for their contribution to the fashion industry. “Most of the time they are people of color [thrown] under the bus about what they create and what they give to the fashion industry, “he said.” The fashion industry likes to take elements [of their designs] and claim them as what they created. But many of them are appropriated or adopted or sometimes influenced by drag, people of color, indigenous peoples. “In the future, he hopes to see more indigenous and LGBTQ + fashion designers in the media and get the spotlight they deserve. Some of his Personal favorite indigenous designers and brands include Winston Paul, Scott Wabano, Lauren Good Day, Jamie Okuma, Hashké, Lotus & Layne Lather Goods, and Antelope Women Designs.

Beyond TikTok, Geronimo hopes to expand its design portfolio to include pieces that non-indigenous people can wear and create sustainable outfits that will encourage other designers and brands to consider the negative impact of fashion on climate change. Geronimo added: “I really hope people understand that we are [as Indigenous people] are no longer just here to exist. I think it is often very difficult for people to understand that we are still here because there are people who grew up and found out that the genocide of indigenous peoples has started and ended. But in reality we are still here as individuals. . . We are here to actually begin and finish what our ancestors were here for, which is just living life and protecting Mother Earth. “

Check out some of Geronimo’s most impressive designs and most informative videos beforehand.

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