Indigenous activist Sherenté Mishitashin Harris was born on a stormy night when the power went out in the hospital, their family—of proud Narragansett Tribe heritage—seeing it as a sign their child was marked by the Thunder beings.
Now 22, Sherenté embodies that thunder as an outspoken LGBTQ advocate within their Native American community and a proudly Two Spirit genderqueer role model for youth across the world.
Their coming-of-age story is told in the intimate new documentary, Being Thunder, which will become widely available this November corresponding with the annual observation of Native American Heritage Month.
Directed by Stéphanie Lamorré, the feature was filmed over the course of several years, first taking us back to Sherenté’s teens, when they began using dance as a means of gender expression. As they competed in dance competitions at Powwows across New England, they faced adversity from certain voices in their community, but remained resilient thanks to support from their friends and family.
Being Thunder tracks Sherenté’s powerful journey as they come into their own, and Queerty is thrilled to share the first official trailer for the documentary ahead of its digital release on November 11:
Being Thunder comes from acclaimed filmmaker Lamorré (Iraq Oil And Fire), who shares with Queerty that she first learned of Sherenté—and the Two Spirit identity—when researching Indigenous women.
“I saw Sherenté’s concurrent challenge of identity as unique,” the director says, “and at the same time representative of a larger question indicative of our times regarding what it is to be labeled ‘other’ within society’s increasingly tumultuous atmosphere.”
After an initial conversation with then-15-year-old Sherenté and their family, Lamorré eventually visited them in Rhode Island, which is the point she said she promised herself that she’d return to document the story of Sherenté’s emerging identity and journey to revive the Two Spirit role in their community.
She admits the process of working on Being Thunder has been an incredible learning experience, and hopes that, by sharing Sherenté’s story, she can help the young activist in their mission to to give non-Native people an accurate representation about Indigenous peoples in the U.S. and advocate for Two Spirit persons within their own wider Tribal community.
“I met a young 15-year old who was just starting to explore and coming to terms with their emerging Two Spirit identity. Sherenté is now 22,” Lamorré reflects. “The one constant, and most impressive aspect about Sherenté is their fidelity to this mission and purpose.”
“For someone their age, and what they have already had to endure since coming out as Two Spirit at 15, their unwavering path and self-respect are admirable. Sherenté is just beginning, I can’t wait to see what they do with their life. It’s going to be magnificent!”
After wowing audiences at film festivals in 2021, Being Thunder will finally be available on VOD and digital platforms on November 11, corresponding with the month’s annual celebration of Native American Heritage Month. You can find more information here.