Xyooj Xub is an 18 year old, Hmong American and identifies as a Gay/Queer male residing in Minnesota.
Ever since I could remember (I’m guessing the earliest age being 4, and self-identifying as a boy for the most part of my life) I’ve always felt a romantic pull to other boys and men. I found boys and men attractive and often wished I could’ve expressed that; however, even at that age, I recognized that it was dangerous to say such things. I quickly learned from one incident in which I told my cousins and siblings I thought one boy was cute, that ridicule would soon follow.
I came out to select individuals when I was 16 and 17 because I felt I was hiding a part of who I am, and that didn’t feel good. I came out to my friends, sister, and twin brother and I found that they were okay with who I am. However, for various reasons that aren’t exclusive to sexuality, I’ve dropped or drawn back from many of my relationships with these people. My immediate family, a select few of cousins, and most friends, are aware of my sexuality. The thing I’ve realized is that I don’t need to constantly assert what my sexuality is to everyone. It’s simply who I am and it’s my business, no one else’s to be concerned with. Other reasons why I choose to only reveal my sexuality to certain people are my concerns of safety, comfort, and fear of discrimination.
I don’t speak openly with my family about my life. I deal with depression that partially stems from my dysphoria about my sexuality, thoughts on gender, disconnection from my Hmong culture, and more. I don’t have much support from Hmong folks in general, and I find that on top of dealing with a variety of forms of oppression (racism, heterosexism, classism, etc.) from mainstream America, I must also do so within my own community. It puts that much more strain on my mind. Somedays, it becomes too much and I break a bit.
From personal tales of others, I’ve heard of queer Hmong youth being thrown out of their homes, disowned by their families, rejected by peers, or were told not to reveal their sexual identity to others in the family and community. In the worst case scenario, death occurs. The most prominent story I can recall was reading about the young lesbian couple, Pa Nhia Xiong (17 y/o) and Yee Yang (21 y/o), who committed suicide together in their despair of knowing their love would not be accepted by their families or community. A link to their story can be found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/asianamericanartistry/message/763.
I don’t feel supported in general by the Hmong community. There aren’t even words in our language to describe our existence and I know well enough to say that I and other queer Hmong folks of this time can’t have been the first to have felt these ways. I feel I’m on the margins of margins with the identities that I identify with. I feel that, with not many resources or guidance available, many queer Hmong folks here in the U.S. get swept into the mainstream LGBTQ scenes, which itself has so many issues (white-focused, racist, misogynist, transmisogynist, classist, fat-shaming, body-shaming, etc.). I had to figure a lot of things out for myself and put forth a lot of effort to find resources that would help me better understand what healthy acceptance/love of myself and others meant. I wish this struggle didn’t have to exist for so many folks already struggling and I wish there were more available resources to prepare queer Hmong folks for a number of things in life.
If you’re compel by Xyooj Xub’s story, we invite you (if you identify as Hmong LGBTQQI) to contribute your narrative to our collection and documenation by taking this 5 minute survey: http://tinyurl.com/HmongLGBTQQIStories
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