Burns, Randy Papers

Span Dates: 1968-2002
Bulk Dates:
Volume: 1 linear foot


The bulk of the collection consists of materials relating to LGBT American Indians, Two-Spirit people and American Indian history collected by activist Randy Burns, co-founder with Barbara Cameron, of Gay American Indians (GAI). The collection includes materials related to Burns, GAI and other LGBT Indian organizations across the United States and Canada, including a typescript of “Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology” by the GAI History Project. One major topic is AIDS, communities of color and cultural competency. There are facilitator’s manuals for safer sex workshops, and materials from the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center, the People of Color HIV/AIDS Advisory Committee and the Third World AIDS Advisory Task Force. Newsletters in the collection include “In the Wind,” “Native AIDS Brief,” the American Indian/Alaska Native Community AIDS Network Newsletter, and “Positively Native.” The collection also contains materials by and about Mohawk poet Maurice Kenny, anthropologist Walter Williams and scholar Will Roscoe. The collection has drafts and typescripts of Roscoe’s papers, including several pieces he wrote with Harry Hay, and correspondence and ephemera related to his work. Other topics and organizations represented in the collection reflects Burns’ activism in the Indian, anti-racist and LGBT communities and include materials from Gay Freedom Day and Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL), such as “Criticism of the June 28th Union.” Types of materials include academic papers, correspondence and memos, fact sheets and statistics, flyers, meeting minutes, newsletters, programs, reports and buttons.

Hist/Bio Note

Randy Burns co-founded GAI along with the late Barbara Cameron in 1985, primarily as a social club devoted to uncovering the history of what they termed "two-spirit" people in their traditions. Now, two-spirit is a widely used umbrella term for the diverse gender and sexual identities in North American Native cultures. These identities primarily posit a unique, often spiritual role for two-spirit people. GAI spawned many two-spirit organizations around the country, including the Bay Area American Indian Two Spirits formed in 1999 which holds annual pow-wows that help recreate ceremonies and dances for queer identified people whose history and religious significance were lost during assimilation and boarding school policies. (From Bay Area Reporter (2015).)

Finding Aid

An online finding aid is available through the Online Archives of California.


The GLBT Historical Society of San Francisco holds this collection.


Two Spirit | AIDS | San Francisco | California | Nomenus | Hay, Harry | Native American Spirituality | Neo-Pagan/New Age Movements/Occultism/Spirituality