25 Top Barbara May Cameron Quotes (with Commentary)

Barbara May Cameron, a Hunkpapa Lakota born in 1954 on the Standing Rock Reservation, was a figure of immense influence and creativity. Her multifaceted identity as a Native American, a lesbian, and an activist profoundly shaped her contributions to the arts and social justice movements.

Cameron’s journey took her from the Standing Rock Reservation to the vibrant cultural landscape of San Francisco, where she co-founded Gay American Indians and became a pivotal voice in the LGBTQ+ and Indigenous communities.

Her quotes are reflections of her rich life experiences and her deep engagement with issues of identity, spirituality, social justice, and human emotions. ​​​​

Barbara May Cameron Quotes

“A grain of devotion is more valuable than tons of faithlessness.”– Barbara May Cameron

Cameron’s words here express the value of genuine commitment over superficial or insincere expressions. She emphasizes that even a small amount of true dedication and loyalty is far more significant than a large quantity of disloyalty or half-heartedness.

This quote highlights the importance of sincerity and authenticity in our beliefs, actions, and relationships, encouraging us to value and nurture genuine devotion in all aspects of life​​.

“Because of experiencing racial violence, I sometimes panic when I’m the only non-white in a roomful of whites, even if they are my closest friends; I wonder if I’ll leave the room alive. The seemingly copacetic gay world of San Francisco becomes a mere dream after the panic leaves … I want to scream out my anger and disgust with myself for feeling distrustful of my white friends and I want to banish the society that has fostered those feelings of alienation.” – Barbara May Cameron

This quote poignantly encapsulates Cameron’s internal conflict, where her experiences of racial violence invoke a sense of fear and alienation, even in familiar settings. It highlights the deep psychological impact of racism, where trust is undermined, and a sense of safety is compromised, even among friends.

This powerful expression of anguish and frustration underscores the complex interplay of race, trust, and personal relationships, reflecting the broader societal need to confront and address the roots and consequences of racial discrimination​​.

“In reading newspapers in the SF Bay Area, one gets the impression that the only news coming out of the IXth International Conference on AIDS is the disruptions by ACT-UP, pretending they represent the heart and soul of all AIDS activism. But … Alaska Soto from the Native and Indigenous AIDS Network (NIAN) addressed the closing plenary with a reading of the group statement from NIAN. The statement reflected the continued frustration and efforts by Native people to be serious participants in the international arena of HIV and AIDS.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron criticizes the media’s narrow portrayal of AIDS activism, emphasizing the marginalized voices of Native Americans in this global health crisis. Her frustration with the lack of visibility and recognition of diverse groups, particularly Indigenous communities, in the AIDS movement, is a powerful call for inclusivity.

This quote reflects the broader issue of representation in media and activism, stressing the need for diverse voices and perspectives in effectively addressing major public health and social issues​​.

“Quilts are more than something to keep you warm. They give women a way to express themselves creatively. I like the way that you’re using pieces of your children’s outgrown clothing to make this quilt. It already has memories built in it that way, don’t you think?” – Barbara May Cameron

This quote by Cameron emphasizes the emotional and creative significance of quilting, particularly as a form of women’s expression. She highlights how quilts can encapsulate personal memories and stories, especially when they are made from materials that hold sentimental value, like children’s clothing.

This perspective offers a deeper appreciation of the cultural and emotional aspects of crafting and its role in preserving personal histories and fostering a unique form of storytelling​​.

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“The biggest thing, the most important thing I learned about watching someone I loved being ill was to take each day and live it because you never knew how many days you had left with the person you loved.” – Barbara May Cameron

In this quote, Cameron reflects on the profound lesson of cherishing every moment with loved ones, especially in the face of illness and uncertainty. It underscores the preciousness of time and the importance of being present in our relationships.

Her words resonate with anyone who has faced the possibility of losing someone dear, reminding us to appreciate and make the most of the time we have with our loved ones​​.

“One should not be happy or distressed over desirables and undesirables, knowing that such feelings are just created by the mind.” – Barbara May Cameron

This quote presents a philosophical view on the nature of emotions and desires. Cameron suggests that our feelings of happiness or distress are often self-created, influenced by our perceptions and thoughts.

She invites us to consider the power of our mindset and the importance of maintaining a balanced perspective in life. This perspective encourages introspection and self-awareness, highlighting the potential for personal growth and emotional resilience​​.

“The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron encourages proactive and deliberate action in shaping our own futures with this empowering statement. She advocates taking control and actively participating in creating the life and world we want, rather than being passive observers.

This quote is a call to action, reminding us of our agency and the potential we have to influence our lives and communities positively​​.

“Our identity is our power to express our culture.” – Barbara May Cameron

Barbara May Cameron highlights the profound significance of identity in cultural expression. This quote underscores the intrinsic relationship between who we are and how we convey our cultural heritage, values, and traditions.

Particularly relevant to marginalized communities, Cameron’s words emphasize identity as a dual symbol of pride and a mechanism for resisting cultural erasure and assimilation. Her activism and writings encourage individuals to embrace and express their unique identities, thereby keeping their cultures vibrant and alive.

“Speaking out is not only a right, but a responsibility.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron believed in the vital importance of using one’s voice to instigate change, portraying it as both a right and a duty. This quote is a clarion call for advocacy and vocal opposition to injustice and adversity.

It inspires a sense of responsibility towards speaking up, particularly for marginalized and oppressed communities. Cameron’s perspective champions the idea that individual voices are crucial in challenging the status quo and fostering transformative change.

“Diversity is not about how we differ; diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” – Barbara May Cameron

This quote offers a profound insight into the essence of diversity. Cameron points out that diversity isn’t merely recognizing differences but actively embracing and celebrating them. She views diversity as a rich tapestry of individual uniqueness, contributing to the collective experience.

This philosophy is vital in multicultural societies, where acknowledging and valuing each person’s unique contribution fosters inclusivity and harmony.

“In our shared struggle, we find strength.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron speaks to the collective power of solidarity in overcoming challenges. This quote suggests that unity in facing common struggles leads to a strength that surpasses individual efforts.

It resonates with social movements and communities facing adversities, where solidarity not only provides practical support but also fosters emotional and psychological resilience.

“Learning is a journey, not a destination.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron’s words reflect a deep understanding of education and personal growth. By considering learning as an ongoing journey, she advocates for a lifelong commitment to acquiring knowledge and understanding.

This perspective encourages curiosity and open-mindedness, emphasizing that the pursuit of learning is continuous and ever-evolving.

“True leadership is about empowering others.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron’s view on leadership focuses on the empowerment of others rather than authority or control. She sees leadership as a transformative process aimed at uplifting others and enabling them to realize their potential. This approach encourages leaders to create environments where everyone can thrive and contribute, thereby fostering equity and productivity in communities.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Barbara May Cameron

In this quote, Cameron emphasizes the importance of authenticity and individuality. She encourages people to embrace their true selves, highlighting that each person’s uniqueness is their strength.

In a world that often values conformity, Cameron’s words serve as a reminder of the value of being true to oneself and the richness it brings to the broader community.

“I love being a woman. I love being a lesbian. I love being an Indian. I love being all three at the same time.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron’s quote reflects her embrace of her identity as a woman, a lesbian, and a Native American, celebrating the intersectionality of these aspects of her life.

She expresses joy in her multifaceted identity, advocating for the acceptance and recognition of diverse gender and sexual expressions, including the Two-Spirit identity in Native American cultures.

“Love is something that you can’t explain. It’s something that you feel. It’s something that you share. It’s something that you give and receive.” – Barbara May Cameron

This quote encapsulates Cameron’s view of love as an indescribable, deeply felt experience that involves sharing, giving, and receiving.

She highlights the complex and intimate nature of love, emphasizing its importance in human relationships and connections.

“I think that sexuality is a very personal thing. And I think that each individual has the right to express their sexuality in any way that they choose, as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron advocates for the personal and individual expression of sexuality, emphasizing the right to sexual expression free from harm to others.

Her words underscore the importance of personal autonomy and respect for diverse sexual identities and orientations.

“We each have our own way of expressing ourselves. I just think that life gives us things, situations— people— to make us see how much we have to learn… how much we need to remember to stay humble and realize we are just like children. We don’t know everything.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron’s quote reflects on the continuous journey of learning and personal growth. She emphasizes that life’s experiences, including interactions with others, are opportunities to learn and to remain humble.

Her words suggest that self-expression and learning are lifelong processes and that acknowledging our limitations is a part of growth. This perspective fosters an attitude of openness, humility, and continuous development​​

“A friend of mine once said that she didn’t believe in coincidence, that it was God working in her life, not a coincidence every time something unexpected worked out.” – Barbara May Cameron

In this quote, Cameron shares a perspective that views unexpected positive outcomes as more than mere coincidences, suggesting a divine or purposeful influence in our lives. This reflects a belief in a higher power actively guiding life events, giving them meaning and direction. It’s a thought that can provide comfort and a sense of purpose, especially during times when the reasons behind life’s twists and turns are not immediately apparent​.

“I think that the Two-Spirit people have a very special role in our society. They have an extraordinary gift. They can see both sides of life, both the male and the female aspects of life.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron acknowledges and celebrates the unique role of Two-Spirit individuals in society. She recognizes their ability to understand and embody both male and female perspectives, viewing it as a gift.

This quote highlights the importance of embracing and respecting diverse gender identities and expressions, particularly within Native American cultures where Two-Spirit individuals often hold a significant cultural and spiritual role.

“I want to show the pride, the dignity, and the beauty of the Native people who have been invisible and ignored for so long.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron’s commitment to portraying the pride, dignity, and beauty of Native people reflects her dedication to countering their historical invisibility and marginalization.

Through her art and activism, she aimed to bring visibility and recognition to Native communities, challenging stereotypes and celebrating their rich cultures and identities.

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” – Barbara May Cameron

In this quote, Cameron elevates the role of photography from mere documentation to a form of creative art. She views it as a powerful tool for expression, capable of conveying complex ideas and emotions beyond factual representation.

This perspective underscores the significance of photography in storytelling, particularly in the context of capturing and conveying the experiences of marginalized communities.

“I am not afraid to speak out and say the things that I want to do, or the things that I want for my people. And I think that if you are strong in your beliefs, that it’s really hard to knock you off.” – Barbara May Cameron

Cameron’s quote reflects her courage and conviction in advocating for herself and her community. She emphasizes the strength that comes from being firm in one’s beliefs, suggesting that this steadfastness makes one resilient against challenges.

This quote is a powerful encouragement to speak up for one’s rights and aspirations, highlighting the importance of self-advocacy and perseverance in the face of adversity.

“I don’t think of myself as a leader. I think of myself as a person who has a responsibility to the people that I come from.” – Barbara May Cameron

Barbara May Cameron’s perspective on leadership is grounded in a sense of responsibility rather than authority. This quote reflects her humility and dedication to her community, seeing her role not as one of command, but as a commitment to serve and advocate for her people.

It is a poignant reminder that true leadership often resides in selfless service and a deep connection to one’s roots and community. Cameron’s words encourage a rethinking of traditional leadership roles, highlighting the importance of community-centered approaches and responsibilities​​.

“What I see here, what I feel here is that people in your world believe spirituality isn’t distant. It’s close and real. Religion seems born in the home, stays in the home. I mean, the services are even held in the home. And there’s not one person in charge, one speaker set above the others. It’s farmers and carpenters, and well, just average folk speaking spontaneously about the message they find in the Bible. […] A message from the heart to the heart.” – Barbara May Cameron

This quote reflects Cameron’s observation of spirituality as an intimate and personal experience. She notes that spirituality and religion are deeply woven into the fabric of daily life, rather than being distant or abstract concepts.

Her words emphasize the communal and egalitarian nature of spiritual expression, where everyone, regardless of their social standing, contributes equally. This perspective highlights the power of personal and shared spiritual experiences in shaping community bonds and individual beliefs​​.

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Final Thoughts

The quotes of Barbara May Cameron encapsulate the essence of a life lived with deep conviction and multifaceted identity. Through her words, Cameron offers a rich tapestry of wisdom that touches on themes like the importance of embracing one’s identity, the significance of living in the present, and the power of personal spirituality.

Her insights into the human condition, drawn from her experiences as a Native American, a lesbian, and an activist, continue to resonate and inspire. Cameron’s legacy, as reflected in her quotes, is a powerful reminder of the impact one can have through embracing and advocating for one’s truth. Her words stand as a beacon for future generations, guiding us towards understanding, empathy, and the courage to speak our truth​​​​.

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