FAQs: Two-Spirit Actor and ‘Reservation Dogs’ Star Elva Guerra

This Pride Month, Native News Online chatted with LGBTQ and two-spirit folks from Indigenous communities. We talked about being queer in Indian Country, feeling happy by staying close to our culture, and our hopes for the next generation of LGBTQ and two-spirit Indigenous people.

In this interview, we catch up with Elva Guerra, who you might know from Hulu’s “Reservation Dogs”. Elva, who is Mexican and Ponca Nation, talks about their journey as an openly two-spirit and queer actor in Hollywood. They share how acting empowers them and why representation matters.

We’ve trimmed and tidied up the interview for easier reading.

FAQs: Two-Spirit Actor and ‘Reservation Dogs’ Star Elva Guerra

Do you identify with the term two-spirit?

I agree. Figuring out my identity as two-spirit hasn’t been easy, but chatting with others like me has really shed light on it. Their insights helped me grasp what being two-spirit truly means for me. It’s been quite the journey, but I’m getting there.

I find it really special how we, as queer indigenous folks, can embrace the term “two-spirit” as our own. It’s like having a unique label that truly reflects us. Figuring out my identity hasn’t been easy, but connecting with other two-spirit individuals has been so comforting. Being part of this community feels like home.

What does being two-spirit mean to you?

To me, being two-spirit is about being myself. I’m Elva, plain and simple. I don’t overthink it. It’s easy to get tangled up in labels like queer or non-binary, but I prefer to keep it straightforward.

For me, being two-spirit is about feeling totally accepted in who I am. I’m not strictly male or female, but I see aspects of both that I connect with. It’s something I’ve felt deep down since I was little. Calling myself two-spirit just feels right.

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What does Pride mean to you as an Indigenous person?

Growing up, I struggled with accepting who I am. I had all these negative thoughts about being queer and Indigenous. But now, embracing my identity feels liberating. It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders. And the best part? By being true to myself, I’ve found a community of people who understand me.

It feels really nice, you know, seeing all these Indigenous folks like us at Pride, just being themselves without any hesitations. Like, I saw you, Neely, and other friends embracing who they are, and it just fills my heart with warmth. It’s beautiful to witness. We should all feel free to be who we are, whether it’s embracing our Indigenous heritage or being true to our queer identities and loving who we love. Happiness and love, that’s what it’s all about. And seeing our people radiate that joy? It’s everything. We all just want to be ourselves and love each other, plain and simple.

What makes you feel the most authentic?

It’s funny, but I feel most like myself when I’m acting. You gotta stay true to you, even when you’re someone else. Acting’s like putting up fences, you know? Being real means being honest with yourself, even if it means setting some boundaries.

Acting really changed me, especially as a queer person. It’s tough in mostly straight places like the film biz. But I stay true to myself. When I’m on set, I’m real. I never let go of who I am, no matter what.

(courtesy photo)

(courtesy photo)

Did you ever feel really strong or learn something new while filming Reservation Dogs?

You know, we’ve got quite a few folks like that on set. My co-star, Devery Jacobs, is awesome. She’s also queer and Indigenous, just like me. We click really well and she’s always been super supportive of who I am. And let me tell you about the Aunties on set – they’re like family. No matter who you are, they make sure you feel right at home.

Being around all the Aunties on set is like a power boost for me. There’s this amazing vibe, you know? Female energy just lifts you up. I mean, I dig the writers too, they’re awesome and empowering, but there’s something special about being surrounded by women. It’s like a shot of confidence straight to the soul. Whenever I’m back on the Rex Dogs set, it’s like coming home to a tribe of supportive, inspiring women who just get it. They make me feel like I’m right where I belong.

What are some challenges you face as a two-spirit Indigenous queer person?

Starting to embrace who I really am was tough at first. I kept worrying about how others saw me, which was draining. But, you know, dwelling on that just messes with your head. It’s better to focus on being proud of yourself without worrying about everyone else.

To tackle the hurdles of folks seeing me only as a woman or as something I’m not, I can’t dwell on it. What keeps me moving forward is brushing off others’ opinions. At the end of the day, what they think doesn’t define me or my path.

I feel really confident about who I am, and that’s not changing anytime soon. I love expressing myself openly every day—it just reinforces my sense of self. Nobody’s opinions can shake me. Ultimately, we’re responsible for our own happiness. It’s tough for queer Indigenous youth because acceptance isn’t common in our communities yet. But I’ve learned to handle my emotions well.

You know, there’s still a bunch of folks out there who aren’t cool with LGBTQ+ people, especially trans and Indigenous folks like me. But hey, I figure the more I put myself out there, the more I can shine a light on those issues. My main gig? Standing up for my Indigenous fam who go through this stuff. It ain’t easy, being open about who I am, but knowing I can make even a tiny difference for other queer Indigenous folks? That’s what keeps me truckin’.

What advice would you give to other two-spirit and queer Indigenous kids?

I love that question! It hits me right in the feels. See, I’ve been there, feeling alone and isolated as a young queer Indigenous person. But hey, we’re here, still kicking. To all those kids out there, just know, we’re proof that you’re not alone.

If you ever need someone to talk to, especially if you’re a young Indigenous person going through a tough time, just know I’m here. Drop me a message anytime, or just reach out. There’s always another way, always a brighter option, even when things seem really tough. I get it, I’ve been there too. But trust me, there’s so much beauty in the world worth holding on for. So don’t hesitate to hit me up if you need a listening ear or some support.

It would mean the world to me if you stuck around and joined us. Our community could really use more open Indigenous folks like you, spreading love and support. Whether it’s online or in person, connecting with queer Indigenous youth fills my heart with joy. So please, stick around, and let’s keep spreading that love together.

To all the queer Indigenous kids out there, just keep pushing forward. We’re all in your corner, cheering you on. You’re not alone, okay? We care about you so much.