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Navajo leader's comments on gays stir controversy

A Navajo leader who called a Navajo anthropology professor a "homo archaeologist" and made disparaging remarks about gay people in a Phoenix newsweekly is refusing to apologize for his comments.

Albert Deschine, a former Navajo chapter president, made his comments in a December 22 story in The Phoenix New Times. He criticized Wesley Thomas, an anthropology professor at Indiana University-Bloomington, for Thomas' work on Navajo sexuality and gender, and said gay people are "nothing more than a degenerate gene." He also suggested that gay or transgendered Navajos are responsible for the high rate of HIV on the reservation.

"I may have strong beliefs and my story may have offended people, but that's me," Deschine told The Gallup Independent when asked about his comments.

The Phoenix New Times talked about the challenges faced by Native men who live as women. They often leave the reservation for Phoenix and engage in a dangerous life of prostitution.

For Alejandro Lucero, a Hopi man living as a woman in Phoenix, and Raymond Soos, a Salt River Pima man living as a woman, the life proved deadly. Both were murdered within weeks in early 2002. Their murders remain unsolved.

Get the Story:
Gays: Tribe ignoring tradition (The Gallup Independent 1/30)

Phoenix New Times Story:
The Crying Game (December 22, 2005)
Letters in Response (January 6, 2006)

Relevant Links:
National Center for Lesbian Rights -
Native Out - http://www/
Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits -
Dine Coalition for Cultural Preservation -

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