In honor of National Coming Out Day and to highlight the work of Native LGBTQ +Two-spirit leaders in Indian Country, the organizing committee for the 8th Annual Southwest American Indian Rainbow Gathering has selected Diné human rights leader, Alray Nelson, as its keynote speaker.
The annual event will take place on Friday, October 19, 2018, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Indian Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Allies and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit community are invited to attend the day-long event celebrating Indigenous LGBTQ and two-spirit identities.
“For too long our Native LGBTQ and Two-spirit brothers and sisters have endured injustice and discrimination on and off our Sovereign Nations. This is going to change,” said Nelson, from his home in New Mexico. “When violence is still prevalent in homes, our indigenous transgender women go missing, and youth continue to take their lives; we have a responsibility to challenge our governments and fight for the betterment of our communities.”
With 17 years of community organizing and campaign management experience, Nelson served as an advisor to two Navajo Nation Presidents, was the Native American Vote Organizer for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and currently is the Native American Outreach Director for the gubernatorial campaign for New Mexico Congresswomen Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“The Phoenix Indian Center is a hub for our community and our Native LGBTQ+ leaders in this urban area are doing tremendous work taking on these challenges,” Nelson concluded. “Our sacred songs, prayers, and our optimism as a community is strong and we are powerful. It is my belief that our indigenous LGBTQ +Two-spirit youth will fulfill the vision and return home to reclaim their rightful roles as warriors, healers, caretakers, matchmakers, and community leaders.”
Alray is the founder and lead organizer for the Coalition for Dine' Equality - one of the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations in the country. He currently serves as the Board Chairman of Equality New Mexico and was honored by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development as one of the Top 40 Native Leaders Under 40. Various European and Latin American media, including Details Men’s Magazine, MTV News, Al Jazeera America, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Indian Country Today, and the Associated Press have featured his work as a leader for indigenous human rights He resides in Gallup, NM, with his husband of seven years, Brennen Yonnie.