‘Drunktown’s Finest’ explores Navajo lives in border town

Navajo filmmaker bases Drunktown’s Finest in life in Gallup, New Mexico, a border town near the Navajo Nation:

Drunktown’s Finest is a movie about finding hope in the bleakest of circumstances. Director Sydney Freeland grew up in the real Drunktown: Gallup, N.M. Or at least that’s what ABC’s 20/20, the cable newsmagazine that gave her hometown that dreadful moniker in 1990, would have her believe. Instead of resigning herself to a life of addiction, Sydney found a source of hope in her Navajo culture. She wrote Drunktown’s Finest to share that hope with the world, and to show that the wisdom of Navajo tradition can be a powerful force for good in our modern society. An important tenet of this Navajo wisdom is respect for the Nadleeh, or third gender. Since long before the LGBT movement, the Navajo have had a sensitivity for people born with gender identities across the entire spectrum of possibility. They reject the notion of dyadic gender and view relationships in terms of gender identity first, then in terms of sex, meaning that a man in a relationship with a male-bodied Nadleeh is not considered homosexual. This seemingly postmodern concept of gender is actually hundreds if not thousands of years old and still informs Navajo culture today.


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