Jay Her is a 26 year old Agnostic Buddhist Hmong man who identifies as Gay residing in Alaska.
It was when the first season of Power Rangers came out, so since that was 1993 I must say, I was about 6 years old and remember being completely captivated by the Red Ranger. I liked the Yellow and Pink Ranger’s hair styles and spunkiness, but something about the boy Rangers, especially the Red Ranger just sparked an interest in me. Then they introduced the Green Ranger and I think if I was allowed to plaster my way with posters and such, I totally would!
Although the feeling I remember I had was something interesting, I was too young to fully grasp sexual attraction yet. I remember the feeling of my attention being completely and utterly focused on everything the male rangers were saying and doing… “Yes, That sounds Great!” (I did not know what it even was)… “I want to try those smoothies too” (even though they were flavors I would have never thought of putting together)… “I wish they went to my school…,” “I wished I could record this so I can watch it again…,” “I think that is a great hobby to have” (knowing I’ve tried it before and was never really good at it)…” I guess it was the feeling that everything they said and did were AWESOME, lol.
But, that never fully translated over to school until I was in 7th grade. I knew I always had butterflies in my stomach when it came to boys at school. I hung out with them just to have their company, but I always wanted to do more of what the girls were doing… that just seemed more fun; other boys were dirty and stuff. Girls were clean and did fun, pretty things… and actually had something to show for it when they were done, not just getting better at an activity the way boys did.
Those were the two pivotal points in my development and my realization from childhood and pre-adolescent years. The rest consists of vetting through emotions, values, religion, societal and cultural stuff, counseling, and the wonderous world of the INTERNET.
I don’t hide it [my sexuality], but I don’t flaunt it too. I tell people when the conversation is relevant, just as I don’t tell everyone my profession, religion, or favorite TV show. If it is relevant to the conversation at hand then we’ll have a dialogue about it. If it’s not, then I don’t feel the necessity to push my facts and lifestyle choices down anyone’s throat. I came out. Not easy; still compromising with some family members, but worth the weight off my shoulders.
My coming out was the first time I questioned religion. I have since been engrossed in the lay study of religion, their origins, the changes throughout the ages, possible motives behind structures and changes, etc. I have always tried and rationalized why certain things are set forth within the religion I grew up in and even tried to rationalize how homosexuality does not fit into the bigger scheme of the universe. It wasn’t until I started looking more into religion and found out that there are other ways of viewing it when the questions started coming up… “If they could be wrong about this, what other things could they be wrong about? Has this always been the case, or did it get changed somewhere along the way because of societal pressure?”
I feel that people are supportive, but just concerned about how I fit into the structure of our Hmong Community. It’s easy when someone says they are “something” that fits into the Cultural Structure of our community… but I don’t think we’ve created a strong enough hold or place for poly-sexuality (more than just heterosexuality) into Structure of our Hmong Culture yet.
Girl, they love it when I make dresses! LOL. They all like me and what I do. The ones who are concerned seem to just bring up some questions related to these bases:
They ask, “What are they (the community) going to think about you?” I just brush this off as an statement of concern or fear that people won’t know how I fit into the Cultural Structure.
They ask, “Who’s going to take care of you when you grow up?” I take this a legitimate concern about my own well being, because throughout many generations, the younger generations would take care of the older generations. So I understand the concern of who is going to take care of me when i get older, because in their mind there are still no alternatives.
Many have become so dependent on their sexuality as their identity that they’ve forgotten how they can fit into the Hmong community. Through that they slowly disengage with our Hmong community, eventually, to the point where they are no longer familiar with most cultural values. Sometimes they even generalize themselves together, as if saying, it’s all part of the culture that didn’t want me anyways.
I don’t want to continue living a lie. I no longer associate with certain people anymore. I’ve connected with a whole new group of people I’ve never thought I’d be a part of, learned the art of compromising to make relationships with family work, and ultimately am happier with myself with this weight off my shoulders.
If you’re compelled by Jay’s story, we invite you (if you identify as Hmong LGBTQQI) to contribute your narrative to our collection and documentation by taking this 5 minute survey: http://tinyurl.com/HmongLGBTQQIStories
©Linda Her and MidWest Solidarity Movement, 2011 – 2013. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution with the intent to sell, use and/or duplication of these images, audio, video, stories, blog posts, and materials on this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links as stated by MidWest Solidarity Movement members may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Her and MidWest Solidarity Movement with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.