notes toward a huli: gender, sexuality, & pilina

Noʻu Revilla


It is important that we reconfigure our approaches to gender and sexuality to be inclusive and responsive. Default bodies [1] and relationships do not have carte blanche in an Indigenous culture that both acknowledges and celebrates shapeshifting. Historically, in Hawaiʻi, American colonization and extractive capitalism have dubbed the Lovely Hula Hands Hawaiian as the default Native body, and to 30,000 tourists a day made the coercive “yes, yes, yes” as default consent because it means we can pay our rent and feed our families. The State of Hawaiʻi and its anti-aloha ʻāina engine depends on the obedience of ʻŌiwi to the toxic fictions of Paradise. Yet the movement to protect Maunakea demonstrates, among many things, that Pay to Play is desecration. We aloha ʻāina respect that access is earned, not paid for.

In Hawaiʻi, Indigenous understandings of gender and sexuality are framed by a larger consideration of pilina - how my ea is bound to your ea is bound to our ea. We widen our lens. Spread our legs. Open our chests and point to the hurt and wonder inside us, asking each other for permission to feel and thrive out loud. Asking each other for names, for safe words, tea, kiki, playlists, literature, erotic poems. No deadnaming. Learn your ʻōlelo makuahine. Read the poetry and theory of your Indigenous, Black, Asian, and Latinx comrades. We need complex, difficult, intergenerational conversations about consent, sexual violence, shame, silence, and healing.

Like Haumea, in ultimate femme fashion, readying herself to rescue Wākea by adorning her kino in forest finery, we are preparing our bodies for a huli. Ua hele ua Haumea nei a ohu i ka maile, ka lehua, ka palapalai ame na lau e ae he nui o kana hapuku ana mai. Ua kakikepa ae la nohoi i na lau la-ki a paa ma kona puhaka. [1] Like Haumea, we ready our bodies in and with the ʻāina. Like Haumea, we queer ʻŌiwi are rigorous, pāhaʻohaʻo & unfuckwithable. Cue the kukui nuts. The huli is here.


[1] For more on default bodies, see Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love.

[2] Poepoe, Joseph Mokuʻōhai. “Ka Moolelo Hawaii Kahiko.” Ka Naʻi Aupuni, vol. 1, no. 139, 8 May 1906.

Guiding Questions

  • What is the pilina between queer and Indigenous? What is possible between queer and Indigenous?

  • In our movement to protect our ʻāina and each other, we will not forget joy, abundance, pleasure, and play. While trauma may shape our lives, it does not define who we are and who we become. Trauma is not a hustle. So it is important that we keep both active and honest two major questions side by side: What ends with us? What begins with us? We are not passive vessels for pain and invasion. We are lovers & makers. E hoʻoulu lāhui.

  • Cisheteropatriarchy and colonialism go hand in hand. How does the movement to protect Maunakea encourage us to challenge, among many things, the unquestioned rule of monogamy and the desperate pathologizing of nonbinary gender identities?

  • Power is centralized through default bodies and relationships. Why are some bodies and relationships scripted as inferior? Who is scripted as worthy of protection? Who is scripted as a worthy protector? Why? How does body shame affect political power?


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