A conversation with Stepha, 2 Spirit Artist from Lucaa Band

Stepha from Lucca Band wearing Ginew strawberry t-shirt with made in USA bandanaJune is Pride Month, as federally recognized by the government. Sometimes this is just performative for companies and many people. 
However, for centuries in Native Communities, gender and sexuality certainly has been more fluid. Pre-Colonial Native Communities had hundreds of Tribes that recognized a third gender. 
This is a great time to highlight the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community, give them a platform, share their stories, struggles and joys, advocate for rights and share organizations and companies to support. But let's not let it only be June that we do these things. 
🌈✨
Originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina but currently living between NYC and Richmond, VA; Lucaa (named after their pup) is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/producer Stepha. They/she is a 2 spirit Afro-Indigenous artist from A Ni Sa Ho Ni (Cherokee - Blue/Medicine clan) and Arapaho ancestry. 
Lucaa's approach to alt-pop harnesses influences from Radiohead, Billie Eilish, girl in red, and Sade. With organic production led by Stepha’s spectral vocals reminiscent of a lullaby, Lucaa’s brand of raw and emotive pop music is an expression of both their inner workings and their culture. 
Stepha from Lucca Band wearing denim vest with cotton strawberry bandana from Ginew
GINEW: What would you most like people outside of your community (+people who are not First Nations/Native American) to understand about two-spirit individuals from your tribe?

Stepha: Hi, I'm Lucaa (Eastern Cherokee/ Arapaho/ Black), a 2-spirit Afro-Indigenous singer, songwriter, and producer. What I would love for people to understand is that 2-spirits have existed and we do have a place (not of rejection and exclusion, but as another piece of the puzzle). Asegi in Cherokee is a word for people who are outside of traditional male and female roles.  We understand the power of the sacred circle, everything moves within it, the medicine wheel, the Universe, day to night, and gender.  There is not just one side and then the other it instead is fluidity; and 2-spirits complete that cycle.  I believe that completeness is sacred.  I believe that colonialism brought in a dichotomy system that didn't only leave little place for fluidity, but also demonized it. So, I would like people to realize that there is more than just that system and that 2-spirits help break that schism that disrupts the circle.

GINEW: How has it felt to see other 2-Spirit and Nonbinary Native Folks shining in the media recently?

Stepha: Haha, the feeling is INDESCRIBABLE!  Seeing people thrive like Kali Reis, another Afro-Indigenous 2-spirit person, influencers, queer musicians like Black Belt Eagle Scout, and people I have met and look up to, who I now consider my chosen family, has saved my life.  We are taking up space, helping this society realize that there is a future for us, it is happening now and it is bright.  We are unstoppable; and that feels . . . No. That is strong.

GINEW: How has the intersection of queerness or your 2-spirit identity collided with your Native and Black culture and spirit?

Stepha: I love this question.  Growing up in the Southeast there was a very strong culture within both the Black and Native communities that reject any sort of LGBTIQA identity or affiliation.  I remember being told by people in my community that I shouldn't stay in the Gay/Straight Alliance at school because I might catch what "they" had and go to hell. I was told I couldn't play certain sports as people would think I was a "dyke".  Gay jokes about "fairies and f*gs" ran rampant. I often felt that I had to choose between being 2-spirit or being a "good" member of my cultures. Which is an insufferable choice.
Recently, I have seen that start to change within broader society, but as I have returned to my Southern roots and am experiencing life in the bible belt again I often find myself asking "has it changed as much as I thought...or hoped?"
Stepha from Lucca Band wearing white tee with blue strawberry outside
GINEW: Do you dance at pow wows? If so, what are you dancing and why?

Stepha: I have not danced yet, I have always been drawn to the fancy dancers but I didn't believe that I could do it.  At pow wows I connect the most with the music, the Morning Song was my favorite.  So, a lot of the drums, flutes, and rhythms influence sounds that I use in my music now.  
What I do think is, as I come into myself as a proud 2-spirit adult, and see my people thrive, perhaps I will break my own personal barriers and dance, like I've always wanted.
GINEW: Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your experience with us and readers. It's been a privilege to work with you over the past year, have these conversations with you and see you thriving!
Stepha: Of course, thank you so much, it was an honor to get to share my words and the questions were so insightful!
 
GINEW: You can find Lucaa Band online at @Lucaaband for Instagram, @lucaaaa on TikTok, Lucaa On Spotify or Apple Music, and of course their website is lucaaband.com.
Stepha from Lucca Band with Ginew's strawberry bandana around neck and a denim vest.
For organizations Stepha loves: The Rainbow Youth Project because they help with suicide prevention in the LGBTIQA2S communities and that is so near and dear to their heart!
 
The Native youth suicide rate is 2.5 times higher than the overall national average, data from the Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, shows. It is the highest across all ethnic and racial groups, according to the National Indian Council on Aging.
 
Thanks for reading and go follow Lucaa Band 🌈 
Below are organizations you may want to consider supporting and following:
Montana TwoSpirit Society | https://www.mttwospirit.org
Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits | https://www.baaits.org
Know Your Rights | National Center for Transgender Equality | https://transequality.org/know-your-rights
The Trevor Project | https://www.thetrevorproject.org
TwoSpiritSocieties.pdf (tribalinformationexchange.org) |
Two-Spirit Mental Health Peer Support Manual | https://www.nativeyouthsexualhealth.com/peersupportmanual
Two-Spirit + Native LGBTQ+ Resources | https://www.naicja.org/two-spirit-native-lgbtq-resources/