Excerpt from “Red Versus White,” a chapter in Sherman Alexie’s
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian:

My grandmother’s greatest gift was tolerance. Now in the old days, Indians used to be forgiving of any kind of eccentricity. In fact, weird people were often celebrated. Epileptics were often shamans, because people just assumed God gave seizure visions to the lucky ones. Gay people were seen as magical too. I mean, like in many cultures, men were viewed as warriors, and women were viewed as caregivers. But gay people, being both male and female, were seen as both warriors and caregivers. Gay people could do anything. They were like Swiss army knives.

My grandmother had no use for all the gay-bashing and homophobia in the world, especially among other Indians.

“Geez,” she said. “Who cares if a man wants to marry another man. All I want to know is, who’s going to pick up all the dirty socks?”


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