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Who is Will Roscoe...


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“Same-sex love occupies a special place in the patriarchal imaginary of Western cultures—as compulsory heterosexuality’s “other,” the unexplored territory of mutuality and mutual self-realization....Only now, after two millennia of religiously-inspired homophobia and repression, has it become possible for individuals from the broad mass of humanity to enter the untrammeled paths of this dream, to discover for themselves what it can mean.”

—Will Roscoe, Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love


Will 2012

Will Roscoe 2012
Photo by Cass Brayton

Will Roscoe has been active in the the Gay movement since 1975, when he helped found Lambda, the first Gay/Lesbian organization in Montana (still active today as the Lambda Alliance).

The following year, he served an intern at the National Gay Task Force, and in 1977, as coordinator of the Gay People’s Alliance at the University of Oregon, he spearheaded the formation of the Oregon Gay Alliance, a statewide coalition of Gay/Lesbian groups. In 1978, he completed an internship at the Pacific Center for Human Growth in Berkeley, where, working with Harvey Milk and other community leaders, he helped organize a successful campaign to win United Way funding for the Center, the first Lesbian/Gay social service agency in the country to do so. He also served as voter registration coordinator for the No on 6 campaign in San Francisco (the Briggs initiative), an effort that resulted in the registration of over 10,000 new voters.

In 1979, he attended the first radical faerie gathering in Arizona, where he met Harry Hay, and became involved in efforts that led to the founding of Nomenus, which today operates a retreat in Southern Oregon. In 1980, with Tede Mathews and other local artists he organized “Mainstream Exiles: a Lesbian and Gay Men’s Cultural Festival” and between 1980 and 1982, he published and edited with Bradley Rose Vortex: A Journal of New Vision. In 1984, he became Project Coordinator for the Gay American Indians History Project and edited Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology.

Roscoe’s research on the Native American berdache or two-spirit tradition has appeared in numerous journals and publications. His book, The Zuni Man-Woman (University of New Mexico Press), received the Margaret Mead Award of the American Anthropological Association and a Lambda Literary Award. He has since published Queer Spirits: A Gay Men’s Myth Book (Beacon) and edited Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of its Founder (Beacon) by Harry Hay. He is also co-editor of Islamic Homosexualities (New York University Press) and Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities (St. Martin’s, 1998). In 1998 he published Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America (St. Martin’s, 1998), a comprehensive series of studies of two-spirit people and traditions. His most recent book, Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love (Suspect Thoughts, 2004) received a Lambda Literary Award for best work in religion/spirituality.

Roscoe holds a Ph.D. in History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has taught in Anthropology, Native American Studies, and American Studies at UC/Santa Cruz, San Francisco State University, UC/Berkeley, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Dominican College, and he is adjunct faculty for the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology. From 1991-1995 he was an affiliated scholar with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University.

In 2002 he was canonized as Saint Vera Severa by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for his work in promoting harm reduction in the dance music scene. In 2003, he received the Monette-Horowitz Achievement Award in recognition for lifetime contributions to combatting homophobia.





Will by Gina

Photo-illustration by Gina Wick

Stockton 1962


St. Vera Severa of the Klub Scene

St. Vera Severa of the Klub Scene

Will in Olomouc, Czech Republic, April 2013 for the Academia Film Olomouc 48. Photo by Kristýna Erbenova