The first time I ever noticed I had strong attractions or at least a feeling that I liked boys was when I began wanting to play more and more with my best friend who was a boy. I would say we were around six years old at the time. I thought it was normal because I thought it was just an extension of our friendship. I was taught that boy should only befriend and play with other boys, so the feelings that I felt and the interactions that occurred between us always felt right, never wrong.
The Hmong Community, I think for the most part is split in between the middle about my sexuality, and LGBTQ. Traditional family and community members still shun the idea of a same-sex couple being together. On the other hand, the other half, non-traditional is very supportive because they either know of LGBTQ folks and/or are very accepting and supportive. Regardless of this, I think we still continue to exist in the shadows of our culture. We are seldom talked about and rarely thought of. The older Hmong LGBTQ generations have had their own battles that are on a whole different level in which we as the younger generation of queer Hmong Americans cannot experience. We exist in the eyes of the larger Hmong community because they have seen us, yet we are swept under the rug to in order to perpetuate the idea that Hmong LGBTQ people do not exist and that it is only white people who are LGBTQ. Thus, this makes others think that being gay is a “white” or “western disease.” However, we do exist and are making our voices heard everyday in order to gain visibility and to educate our community. I have heard of past Hmong LGBTQ stories from friends who work closely with these older generations. I have also personally met a person who is of the older Hmong LGBTQ generation. However, one of the biggest issues that I face as a Hmong LGBTQ is that I cannot openly express my love towards my partner in public without receiving stares. To other people, it is something of another world, but to us, our values with love and relationship are if not similar, like heterosexual couples.
My coming out story was a two-year production. I first came out to myself and accepted who I was. I had doubts in my mind. I wanted to be “normal,” but in the end, my first experience at love gave me the strength to follow my heart. I slowly came out to my close friends one by one. As I came out to my friends and family, all of them accepted my sexual orientation and loved me even more. I chose not to tell some friends and family because I knew how they would react based on what kind of person they are. However, many of them slowly found out anyways and were overall, accepting of me. Coming out to my family was an accident, but it was a good accident. My parents were the last to know on my list of coming out to. They were not very supportive of the idea at first but half a year later down the road, they were at my college graduation and still supported me in ways of gifting me with a new car. Although my current partner is still referred to as my “friend,” it is still a far better progress than I ever thought it would have become in such a short time span. I think that when you first realize and accept yourself as being LGBTQ, and gain more confidence. You become a person with an open mind that can articulate your experiences that help shape people’s minds and heart towards acceptance. I know that if I did not take time to explore and embrace my sexuality as a gay Hmong man, I would not understand who I am, and not come out. I would have lived an unhappy life, hiding and fearing about my sexuality. I would still be facing the world with doubts. It’s a process when you come out, and a process that takes time and courage to understand.
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