Spreading the word about the importance of representation for LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit Indigenous people is paramount for Lynn. “I use QueerKwe Designs to do advocacy work,” they said. “I’ve given lectures on Two Spirit identity at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. I’ve hosted beading workshops. And I’ve helped train organizations here to be more LGBTQ friendly in general.”
Lynn moved back to the Petoskey, Michigan, area after attending U of M on a scholarship. The Odawa community—which legalized gay marriage in 2013—has been receptive to both Lynn and the QueerKwe project. An article in a monthly newsletter distributed to the Odawa community featured Lynn’s jewelry, and they received plenty of positive feedback from the story. “My [younger] closeted self never saw [something like this] as possible, so it’s been amazing to be back here,” they said. Lynn’s family is especially supportive of their artwork, with their mom and aunt even crafting alongside them.
Though QueerKwe Designs began as a project to help Lynn cope with PTSD after participating in the Standing Rock #NoDAPL protests, it’s since turned it into something much greater. “Beadwork helped bring me back into my body and be able to sit with myself and create with my hands,” they said. “I channeled that energy and transformed it into something new, something beautiful, something with meaning. For me, beadwork is medicine. Medicine for myself, medicine for my community.”