Barbara May Cameron helped start a group called Gay American Indians (GAI) with her friend Randy Burns. She saw GAI as a group to support Native lesbians and gay men.
However, it was also a way to make space for them in the big LGBTQ+ community, which was mostly made up of people who were not Native. Even though she was trained as a photographer, she found that she could say more through essays, which are like stories.
Her essays were very personal and strong, and they became a way for the Indigenous gay community to speak up. She helped organise the Lesbian Gay Freedom Day Parade and Celebration for several years in the 1980s. She even helped lead a lawsuit against the Immigration & Naturalization Service because they used to turn away gay people.
This whole case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and she, with some other people, made arguments for the things that needed to change. The Supreme Court actually agreed with them at last.
She became the leader of Community United Against Violence. She was additionally placed in control of the Citizens Committee on Community Development and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
Furthermore, she worked with the United Nations Commission on the Situation of Women. Also, she assisted with programs to fight AIDS and to make sure kids got their immunizations. She worked intimately with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the American Indian AIDS Institute.
Furthermore, she was even a consultant for the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control. Barbara was a very passionate poet and wrote speeches, too. Many of her writings are now kept at the San Francisco Library.
Who was Barbara May Cameron?
She was born in Fort Yates, North Dakota, in May 1954. She was a member of the Hunkpapa group of the Lakota tribe. Her Lakota name was Wia Washte Wi, which means ‘woman or a good woman.’ Her grandparents raised her.
However, she studied photography and film at the American Indian Art Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after she finished high school. Barbara let the people that she was a lesbian and then moved to San Francisco.
Later, she started to work hard to get Native American communities to accept LGBTQIA+ people in San Francisco. In 1975, she and her friend Randy Burns created the first-ever group that was only for Native American LGBTQIA+ people called Gay American Indians. But Barbara’s work for a better world was just getting started.
Barbara May Cameron Wife
She was with Linda Boyd for a really long time, that is 21 years. They even raised a son together named Rhys Cameron Boyd-Farrell. When Linda talked about Barbara’s Google Doodle, she said that a lot of folks knew Barbara as someone who cared a whole lot about important things, like justice and the rights and safety of native people, as well as lesbian and gay folks and women.
She took all of that very seriously. But Linda also wanted people to know that Barbara had a playful side, and she had a really tender and caring heart.
Barbara May Cameron Death
Some netizens question, “Is Barbara May Cameron Still Alive?” The answer is no, she is not alive. Back in February 2002, Barbara passed away because of natural reasons in her home in San Francisco.
She was just 47 years old. During her memorial service, some important people attended. One of them was Tom Ammiano, who was the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He praised Barbara for her wonderful heart and sharp mind.
Another person there was Carole Migden. She represented District 13 in the California State Assembly at the time, and she talked about how Barbara was a strong advocate for Native Americans who were gay and lesbian.
Google Celebrated Her Birthday With Doodle
On her 69th birthday, Google celebrated by making a special picture called a Doodle. In the picture, she was holding a flag with the LGBTQIA+ rainbow colours. There were two parts in the background of the picture.
One part showed the place where Barbara grew up, which is called the reservation. The other part showed the big and lively city where she spent most of her life.
The artist who made this picture is Sienna Gonzales, and she felt very lucky to make it. She wanted to show how Barbara was a big supporter of LGBTQIA+ Native Americans and make them more visible in the world.