Raising UP Xiong’s Out of the Box Narrative!

Story #8

Xiong Yang is a 27 year-old shamanist, transman from Minnesota.

I was in kindergarten when I had my first crush. I think I started school a few days after it had already begun. I really liked a girl who had befriended me on the first day of class. I remember thinking to myself that it wasn’t normal. I knew I had to hide my feelings. In grade school, I used to write on the bathroom mirror that “I loved” so-and-so. One time, my brother saw it, because I forgot to erase it, and I freaked out and denied it. Another time in 4th grade, my best friend at the time, confronted me (in a friendly but frank way), are you a lesbian? Of course, I denied it. I had no connections to that term. And when I came out to one of my male friends in 6th grade, that I had a crush on the same girl he had a crush on (I was a tomboy at the time), I could tell he was uncomfortable with it. He kind of laughed it off. I transitioned when I was 13, at the end of 8th grade. In the summer before 8th grade, my mom finally allowed me to chop off my long, wavy hair. It was during the year of 8th grade that I became friends with my current partner. We started dating at the end of 8th grade. We just celebrated our 13th anniversary this summer.

Gender 101

Photo credit by Trans Student Equality Resources – http://transstudent.org/gender101

I think the relationships that had the highest impact on my identity the most were my family members. It was difficult for my mom to adjust to my new and different identity, and for her to recognize my partner. It was even more challenging for my brothers and their wives to get used to my new preferred gender pronouns. I was persistent with communicating with them how I felt, which my communication skills got better as time went on. And the more they saw how I was leading a productive life, the more they realized I was becoming who I wanted to be. I think the times have changed a lot since I was a teenager. A lot of people are exposed to non-traditional ways of gender performance and sexual orientations. I think people aren’t as shocked as they used to be. I don’t think there’s complete acceptance yet. Acceptance is really on an individual basis, depending if people have friends or know someone who is a non-heterosexual, and/or non-cisgender person. There’s still a lot of stereotypes out there about Hmong folks who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or queer. The Hmong American society and the American society at large are not ready to move past those stereotypes. (The racial stereotypes are still a work-in-progress.)

Mainstream culture and the traditional Hmong culture still see things in black and white or binary. With that thinking, there’s no room for people who don’t fit neatly into those binary systems. I think the only way to really make this be a change is to be the doer. I live my life not as a man or a Hmong or a son or a husband. I live my life as me, and people find labels that they think best fits who I am. I feel people do that in order to find a commonality or something that they can relate to, which is quite innocent and unintentional.

My mom once told me a story of a distant aunt. She never married. When her parents died, she stayed living on her own. I believe she’s still alive today and is living somewhere in Laos or Thailand. I can’t say if this distant aunt is a closeted same-sex lover or asexual or anything else. But this story always stuck with me. And this story came out when I asked my mom if she knew of any queer folks back in Laos.

Marriage equality for couples who want to get married traditionally is still a big issue, even with the passing of the same-sex marriage bill in Minnesota. There’s a lot of politics involved in Hmong heterosexual marriages already. I don’t know how things like the bride price could be dealt with for a same-sex marriage. What about the spirits? Also, when one partner dies, who’s responsible for the last rites? I hope a more knowledgeable person of Shamanism and Hmong culture can figure this out.

Hmong Freedom to Marry

Because I can “pass” as a man, I don’t find myself having to “come out” or “reveal” myself to people about my gender identity or sexual orientation. I like to get to know people on a nonsexual orientation and non-gender basis. In fact, I’ve made that my personal mission: talk one-on-one with elder Hmong people. Sooner or later, they find out that I’m different. I think I’ve been able to sway a few Hmong elders my way or at least get them thinking outside of the box. I want people to know me for me. I don’t want them to have false misconceptions about me just based on what they associate with a certain word. If people could get to know a person and not judge them based on the label that can be associated with that person, I believe that would be a good start to the world becoming a better place.

If you’re compel by Xiong’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

©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.

Being Gay and Queer in the Laotian Community

Danny K.

Check out our MWSM collective member Danny and his published piece on Little Laos on the Prairie: Being Gay and Queer in the Laotian Community

“One of the biggest thing that sets me apart from most Laotians is that I’m gay. I’m one of the few out gay Laotians in Minnesota and I don’t want it to be that way. There have been questions and curiosity if there are LGBTQ Laotians out there, and I am here to say, “Yes there are LGBTQ Laotians in the community, and yes we do exist.” We are more prevalent than the community thinks about, or are informed about internally and externally of the Laotian community.”

If Danny’s story compels you, please support his leadership and activism through donating $20, $30 or $50 to our Trans* and Queer Southeast Asian Organizer retreat Aug 17 and 18, 2013. Your donation will enable Danny, and Trans* and Queer Southeast Asian activists, organizers, and scholars in understanding the importance of social justice work, activism, and service learning in their community.

Click here to donate: Trans* and Queer Southeast Asian Organizers Retreat Fundraiser

Pride Canvassing & Trans*/Dyke March at Twin Cities Pride, 2013

What an exciting summer this has been! This 2013, MWSM decided to take a different route at Twin Cities Pride (TC Pride). We recruited a team of 10 volunteers to go out and canvass the various non-profits and churches that were present and outreaching about their mission and services. For some of our volunteers, this was their first time at Pride, and canvassing so we made sure to pair them up with someone with canvassing experience. We wanted to find out from the many organizations and churches to identify what services and programs they provided, so we know where to connect our community members to , and possibly collaborate in the near future. The whole team had long and great conversations about the services, leadership dynamics, goal measurements, how does intersectional justice look like in their work, and how do they address institutional racism, white privilege and supremacy. We talked to about 15 organizations and churches, and will be talking to more in the next month to then produce a data report Fall 2014. We will keep you updated!

Meet the team that canvassed!



After a morning’s hard work of canvassing at TC Pride, MWSM joined and marched in solidarity with the Trans*/Dyke March.









TAKE THE SURVEY BELOW: Raising Up The Hmong LGBTQQI Narratives: Coming OUT Process

PLEASE TAKE THE SURVEY HERE: http://tinyurl.com/HmongLGBTQQIStories

Fam, Friends and Community!

PLEASE TAKE THE SURVEY HERE: http://tinyurl.com/HmongLGBTQQIStories

You are invited to share your Coming OUT stories and progress as Hmong lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex (LGBTQQI) individuals. We will be sharing your Coming OUT stories on our Blog: mwsmovement.com. This is an ongoing effort, and we will be posting the first story next Friday, June 21 to celebrate Pride Month. Sharing your story can transform other Hmong LGBTQQI’s lives, and be a story of change to educate others, especially our Hmong parents, family, and community. Celebrate Pride Month with us by taking 5-10 minutes of your time to help raise our narratives, click on this link now: http://tinyurl.com/HmongLGBTQQIStories


Please share widely!

Thank you,


Intersectional Justice Advocacy and Ally 101 Training with Hmong American Women Association’s Staff

Earlier this week, Linda and I traveled to Milwaukee, WI to present MidWest Solidarity Movement’s Intersectional Justice Advocacy and Ally 101 training with the Hmong American Women Association’s staffs. The workshops entitled critical comprehension of sex, sexuality, gender, and the role of alliance through a critical Hmong cultural lens. Afterwards, we were able to lead a discussion with Hmong women victims and survivors in regards to LGBTQ identities in the Hmong community.


Raise Up the Hmong LGBTQ Narratives at Soul Friday!


Come kick back and have some fun with us at Soul Friday this Friday, March 1, 9pm at Hells Kitchen! Bring a friend(s)! 
Soul Friday is a Monthly dance party created for queer women of color and friends. Everyone is welcome! This month Soul Friday is supporting MWSMovement.com through their Community Give Back. We are working and organizing to ensure support, acceptance, safety, creative expression and education in our Hmong and larger community through an intersected social justice framework. Proceeds at the door, which is a $5 entrance fee, will be donated to our work.
In April, we’ll be heading to 16th Hmong National Development Conference in Fresno, Ca to outreach and organize inclusivity on Hmong LGBTQ justice. There will be over 1,000 attendees from all sectors of leadership, community, activism, academia, professionals, and elected officials. Soul Friday’s Community Give Back will support our efforts and ensure Hmong LGBTQ justice is part of the local and national narrative and the Hmong American Journey Forward.
Soulfriday, spinning the best in old school, R&B, old and new hip-hop, house, and more.
Late night food specials from from 9 p.m.- 1 a.m.
Drink specials! $3 Michelob Golden Light, PBR, and Miller tap; $5 Jameson; 
$4 Soul Friday shot; $7 Any beer special and shot of Jameson or SF shot.
9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
$5 at the door
Hell’s Kitchen, 80 South 9th St
(just 1/2 block east of the Nicollet Mall), downtown Mpls.
There is a parking ramp adjacent to Hell’s Kitchen and it’s just four blocks from the Nicollet LRT