Two Spirits

In July 2001, Fred Martinez, a Native American high school freshman in Cortez, Colorado, was bludgeoned to death by 18-year-old Shaun Murphy, a petty criminal and gang member. The two had met casually at a party after a rodeo. They saw each other again on the street later that night, and then, even later, Murphy picked up Martinez and drove him to a deserted location called the Pits. Five days later, Murphy’s friends turned him in after he had boasted of “beating up a fag.” At the Pits, police found rocks stained with Martinez’s blood. “F.C.,” as he was known to his many friends, was six feet tall and over 200 pounds, but the openly gay teen was no match for an angry Murphy.

In the Navaho culture, Martinez was known as nadleeh, a transformer. The idea of a fluid sexual identity was accepted by the Navaho and nadleehs were often given a place of honor. But Martinez lived among non-American Indians in a small town with no such regard for those who were different. Lydia Nibley’s documentary Two Spiritstells of Martinez’s fate along with the struggle his mother went through after his death. She went against a strong cultural tradition that forbids the living to speak of the dead in order to tell her son’s story as one of the youngest victims of a hate crime in recent memory. 7 pm. Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-4882 or visit www.rice.edu. Free.
Thu., June 16, 2011

 
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