Taualuga: The Last Dance. Shigeyuki Kihara in solo performance at the 4th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia, 2003. Photo by Lukas Davidson.
This guide was originally created by Eleanor Kleiber (UHM Pacific specialist librarian) and D. Kealiʻi MacKenzie, during his internship with the UHM Hawaiian and Pacific Collection in 2012.
There are diverse and constantly shifting expressions of gender identity and sexual identity in the Pacific island region. Identity expressions that would be defined as homosexual or transgendered using western vocabulary often fulfilled important and well-established cultural or ritual functions within various parts of the Pacific. Contact with Europeans and the subsequent colonization of the region often resulted in rejection or suppression of these identities. More recently these identities are being reclaimed and redefined, responding to both traditional and external influences and expectations.
Much of what exists on these topics has been written by historians, anthropologists, and ethnographers not from the region. While these observations are invaluable, we are lucky to be in a time when Queer Pacific People have begun to tell their own stories and histories.
This library guide serves as a launching point for researchers, artists, writers, scholars, and students interested in gender identity and sexual identity in the Pacific island region. Of particular interest are some of the terms for alternative genders and sexual expression. The Hawaiian and Pacific collections provide access to books, magazines, journals, newspapers, music, film, as well as rare and archival materials. The librarians in the Hawaiian and Pacific collections can offer search strategies as well as connect you to other resources for research purposes.
This is a list of vernacular terms from the Pacific region. These terms do not always have direct equivalencies with English terms. The usage of these terms are evolving and their meaning may differ depending on the person. We offer these as the broadly accepted definitions for these terms.