Starbucks Pride: Meet Star (they/them), the barista finding strength in discovering more about their Indigenous and two-spirit identities
When Star joined Starbucks in 2013, they identified to others as a woman. However, deep within, they never quite felt like they fit into a specific gender. After searching more into their Indigenous culture, Star came out as two-spirit in 2015.
Star describes two-spirit as an Indigenous person with both spirits, male and female, in which they can flow in between.
Star’s path to discovering their two-spirit identity began several years ago and not only took deeper understanding of their Indigenous roots, but also a desire to set a strong example for their kids.
“I teach my children about inclusion by just being understanding and accepting. We don't really require anything, we just accept,” says Star.
Having kids as part of their family was always Star’s dream, but feeling the pressure of growing up in a society where they were taught the ‘right way’ to have a family was to get married, Star got married at a young age and started a family. Star realized early on that things didn’t feel right but found it difficult to share these feelings with others.
As time passed and Star became a parent to seven children, they thought seriously about the example they wanted to set for them.
This was the catalyst for Star opening up to discover more about themself. Through the journey, Star came out as pansexual. They felt that they loved their husband at the time, and it seemed like it made sense, but Star still didn’t feel quite right about it. Star later came out as lesbian, and that also didn’t feel right. As Star explored more about their Indigenous heritage, things became clear.
“Learning about my two-spirited identity has helped me understand me. I've never felt quite like a woman or a man, I've always been just me, flowing in between”, says Star.
Star believes there is still little knowledge and understanding of the two-spirit identity and describes coming out to people as challenging and complicated at times, both within and outside of the Indigenous community.
“Before colonialism and residential schools, two-spirited people were looked to as more powerful due to their ability to flow between the sexes and their ability to flow within the spirit world,” says Star.
Star regularly attends virtual meetups with other two-spirit people in their province to connect and learn more about Indigenous cultures, including the historical standing of two-spirit people in Indigenous communities.
“We were looked to as healers and visionaries, as we are able walk within the spirit world, and freely flow between our spirits,” Star continues. “Two-spirited people, who are warriors, hunters, gatherers and everything in-between, they have the ability to possess the gifts of both genders. We are truly the third/fourth gender.”
Learning more about their identity has helped Star build confidence. When Star joined Starbucks, they were shy and reserved, but after moving to their current store, and being surrounded by partners who support and accept them for who they are, they have been able to come out of their shell and build great connections with customers, and was even recently recognized as partner (employee) of the quarter in their district.
“We accept each other for who we are. We are truly our authentic selves, we embrace each other's uniqueness and quirks. Coming into my store is like coming home. Truly having a store where I can walk in and know that my coworkers have my back. If somebody mislabels me, my coworkers correct them.” When asked what they want people to learn from their story, Star says, “I hope that people learn to just respect and accept people for who they are, no matter where they came from. Because at the end of the day we never know what people are going through, so the number one thing is just be kind. Be real and true to yourself and that's all that matters.”