Who is Barbara May Cameron? Why Google is celebrating her 69th Birth Anniversary with Doodle?

Who is Barbara May Cameron Why Google is celebrating her 69th Birth Anniversary with Doodle

Google celebrates Barbara May Cameron’s 69th birth anniversary with a special doodle. Cameron, born on May 22 1954 is a Native American photographer, poet, writer, and human rights activist remembered for her passionate writing and speeches. Sienna Gonzales, an LGBT Mexican and Chitimachan artist, created this doodle artwork (below)  to commemorate Barbara’s 69th birthday.

Who is Barbara May Cameron

Barbara May Cameron was born on the 22nd of May, 1954. She was a Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Fort Yates band. Her Lakota name was Wia Washte Wi, which stands for ‘woman or a good woman.’ After finishing her elementary and secondary education, she studied photography and film at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

She became the executive director of Community United Against Violence, where she helped victims of hate crimes and domestic abuse. Cameron was appointed to the Citizens Committee on Community Development and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission by the mayor of San Francisco in 1988, and the next mayor appointed her to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Barbara was also involved with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the American Indian AIDS Institute, working as a consultant for the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centres for Disease Control in the early 1990s, assisting with AIDS and childhood immunisation programmes. Some of her notable activities and accomplishments include:

  • Cameron co-founded the first gay American Indian liberation organization, Gay American Indians.
  • During the span of 5 long years (1980 to 1985), Cameron took the charge of Lesbian Gay Freedom Day Parade and Celebration.
  • She was honoured with the Harvey Milk Award for Community Service in 1992.
  • In the year 1993, she collaborate with International Indigenous AIDS Network to engage in AIDS education, travelling to various Indian reservations throughout the United States.
  • Barbara was the founder of the Institute on Native American Health and Wellness, with her first project publishing the works of Native American women writers.
  • Barbara was the founder of the Institute on Native American Health and Wellness, with her first project publishing the works of Native American women writers.

Death

Cameron was in a relationship with Linda Boyd for 21 long years. They together raised a son, Rhys Boyd-Farrell. On February 12, 2002, she died of natural causes at the age of 47.  Her screenplay “Long Time, No See” was unfinished when she died.

Happy Birthday Barbara May Cameron, Legendary Lesbian Native American Activist

 

Head over to the search engine today, and you’ll be treated to a Doodle celebrating late Native American lesbian activist, writer, and photographer Barbara May Cameron on what would have been her 69th birthday.

The new Google Doodle features a cartoon of Cameron sporting her signature camera around her neck and holding a modern Progress Pride flag, a redesigned rainbow flag which incorporates five new colors celebrating queer people of color and trans and intersex people. Behind Cameron are two scenes: one depicting the Lakota Tribe’s Hunkpapa group in front of the mountains of the Standing Rock Reservation, where she was raised; and another of San Francisco, where she was a central figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement of the 1970s.

“As a queer woman of color, this project served as a powerful reminder that intersectional activism has a rich history that predates my personal awareness,” Gonzales wrote in a Google blog post about the new Doodle. “It was both surprising and noteworthy to discover that individuals like Barbara have been courageously raising their voices and effecting change for much longer than I had realized. Their ongoing commitment inspires me in my own journey.”

Cameron was born on this day in 1954. Over the course of her career, she called attention to the racism in queer spaces and worked to promote LGBTQ+ acceptance in Native American communities. In 1975, Cameron co-founded Gay American Indians, the first-ever LGBTQ+ organization devoted to Native American issues, with her friend Randy Burns.

She continued to promote the intersectional rights of the LGBTQ+ and Indigenous communities throughout her life, from leading San Francisco’s Lesbian Gay Freedom Day Parade and Celebration in the 1980s to co-leading a lawsuit against an anti-LGBTQ+ Immigration and Naturalization Service policy to highlighting the disproportionate impact that the HIV/AIDS epidemic had on Native people. Cameron died in 2002 at the age of 47.

Although attention is rightfully being paid towards Cameron’s professional legacy, Boyd-Durkee told Google that she also wanted to acknowledge her late partner’s “playful side” and “tender heart.” A devoted animal lover, Cameron was also close with their son, Rhys and enjoyed “playing bridge, cooking, and eating with friends on the beautiful Pacific coast.”

“There are people all over the country who were impressed by something that she said in a talk to a college class in Women’s History or Native History, or at an AIDS conference or a LAFA event or anywhere else that Barbara spoke,” Boyd-Durkee said. “Our hope for her legacy is that those who were so moved will honor her by standing up for the lives to which she dedicated hers.”

The Indigenous Activist Who Demanded Inclusion for All LGBTQ+ People

In 1963, when Barbara May Cameron was just 9 years old, she read an article about San Francisco. At the time, Cameron, a Hunkpapa Lakota, lived on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota with her grandparents. As soon as she read about the far-away California city, she confidently informed her grandmother that, one day, she would live there. “And save the world too,” she added.

Just over a decade later, Cameron made it to San Francisco and got to work. First, she co-founded Gay American Indians (GAI) alongside her friend Randy Burns. Cameron viewed GAI as both a support group for Native lesbians and gay men, and a means to carve out space for them within the wider (and whiter) LGBTQ+ community. Those pursuits carried over into her writing as well. Though she had originally trained as a photographer at Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Arts, Cameron found her message was better conveyed through essays. Hers were personal and powerful, and became a loudspeaker for the Indigenous gay community.Cameron’s 1981 essay “Gee, You Don’t Seem Like An Indian From The Reservation” remains a searing snapshot of the struggle to survive marginalization and thrive despite it. In it, she viscerally describes 26 years of bearing witness to violence against her community. Remarkably, she also uses that backdrop as a means to openly discuss her own lasting trauma and the challenge of erasing color lines.

Later, as Cameron describes working on becoming more comfortable in a white-dominated world, she wonders aloud about how she’ll do that without leaving some of her “Indianness” behind. As it turns out, for the rest of her life, Cameron never lost sight of her roots and identity.

Cameron’s ability to use her own life story to magnify the struggles of Native American people was hugely impactful at the time, and remains powerful today. And she did it in essay after essay, never once shying away from uncomfortable, difficult subjects. “It is inappropriate for progressive or liberal white people,” she once wrote, “to expect warriors in brown armor to eradicate racism

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