Raising UP Mary’s My Bisexual Sexuality is not a Phase Narrative

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Story #38

Mary Chang is a 19 year old Hmong bisexual woman located in Minnesota 

My sexuality was not something I could choose. I never chose it, but I found it. I knew since the third grade I was attracted to both boys and girls, but I just never knew what it was called. For a moment I just thought there was something wrong with me. I never understood who I truly was, and why I felt a certain way, and I was incredibly confused. For the longest I walked with the title “Straight Female”. I knew I wasn’t straight. But I knew I chose to be at that time.

In the third grade, I had confused feelings towards a classmate. I knew I enjoyed her presence, and I remembered constantly looking back at her as she sat by the windowsill in class. There was something about her that gravitated me towards her. Maybe it was how smart she really was, or the way she was always silent and mysterious. Whatever it was, I would always stumble and feel awkward in her presence. I always tried to make a good impression whenever we talked, but I always came off  dumb founded when she spoke to me. I remembered on Valentine’s Day, I picked out a specific card just for her. The front of the card boldly said “you wanna hear a secret….?”. And then as you flipped over the cover, it said in over romanticized cursive letters, “I like you!”. I knew it was the one for her, and so I decided to write, “It’s true, I really like you”. But I remembered looking at it again, probably realizing how pathetic and wrong I felt. I thought that my feelings towards her was not right, because in this society, there was only “straight”. I threw the letter away, because I didn’t want to be teased by her or looked down by her. I didn’t want her to judge me. A few weeks later, I stopped seeing her in class, and she never showed up again. I soon found out that she moved away to another state.

It happened again in the 6th grade. But this time, it was different. It was more obviously like a “crush” rather than a “like”. I loved everything about her. The way her hair was chopped medium length. The way she wore boy t-shirts and sweaters. She was into a lot of things like I was, especially art and mangas. We became good friends and drew pictures for each other. I would look at her when she was drawing, and every time she spotted me, she would smile, and my face bloomed like a rose. But the saddest thing was that I kept my feelings away from her. All of it. It wasn’t until the end of the year, the transition to middle school, that I had sent her a letter. I decided to describe every feeling I had towards her. And I’m glad I did, even if she responded the way she did. She was shocked and didn’t know what to say, but told me that I was just a friend to her. And that’s enough for me.

In my freshman year of high school, I was in lust. Have you ever looked at someone and thought, “I HAVE to know that person. I just HAVE to say hi”. She was beautiful. Skin so white and porcelain. Her hair, a bright blonde, and her smile was the most amazing thing you will ever see. When I first saw her, it was like the clouds parted and heavenly light embraced her. I couldn’t take my eyes off. It was around this time that I discovered the term ‘bisexual’ and realized…that’s me. I am a bisexual. It was like I found myself, and I became happier with who I became. I was no longer confused. I told my good friend about her at the time and he (a guy) thought she was cute too. The girl and I managed to become friends and talk over social media. We had amazing conversations, and then, it suddenly stopped after a few days. Then I found out that my good friend was talking to her too and managed to ask her out. I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do.

Then junior year happened (keep in mind that in this time period, I’ve already dated a few guys). We met in french class, she was a year older than me. We were really good friends, enough were we hung out and talked about guys and sat with each other in lunch. I’ve gotten to know her so well that a lot of things about her sparked my interest. I loved how she had a big appetite and had no shame in talking or laughing with a mouth full of food. I loved joking with her and exchanging sarcasm jokes. I loved how her laugh was so loud and obnoxious, it made me laugh too. Just being around her made me like her more and more. we were close enough were we already had each other’s numbers saved in our phones. One day in class, I had an odd message sent to me from her. She was explaining to me the feelings she had for me and how much she really liked me. Oh my god I was in heaven. My heart raced, my stomach was filled with butterflies. We talked about it and I got to tell her how I felt. Though it was never official, I enjoyed every second I had with her. They way we flirted, holding her hand between and to classes. Holding her from behind while walking back from lunch. I felt empty when I didn’t have her warm hands between mines. We liked each other very much…but not enough to leave our exes for each other. Eventually her ex had come back and she decided she wanted to continue the relationship with him again. She let me know and apologized. Though this happened, we still remained wonderful friends, and I came to understanding.

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The number of Hmong people I’ve met in the LGBTQ community can be counted on one hand. It’s hard to find other Hmong people residing in the LGBTQ community. I have heard of organizations such as Shades Of Yellow, a Hmong LGBTQ organization, but other than that, this website is the only website I’ve ever heard of.

When I came out, I came out only to my mother, because I thought she would be more understanding than my step father. But she just ended up telling me that it’s just a phase. I’m doing it just for attention. I’m doing it because my friends do it too, so she thought I was doing it to fit in. Then she shamed me, “what would your uncles and the elders think of you??” she said. And she went on a lecture about holding a good reputation, and being a good person. She told me that being a bisexual would bring shame to us and that I was a bad person. After that, we never spoke about it again. Even until now, I guess she’s thinking that I’ve overcome this sexuality, since I’m currently in a 3 year relationship with a man. But it doesn’t change anything. Til this day I still find women and men altogether attractive. After I found myself, I found others just like me. I joined LGBTQ clubs and found more people with similar interests and stories. I began to embrace myself and had hopes. I’m managing just fine after realizing that what people think about you, does not affect you in any way at all unless you allow it to. And if people cannot accept you for who you are, then they don’t deserve to be in your life. For anyone out there who was confused and lost just as I am, remember; you are not alone, and you will never be alone. Never let words affect you and live your life with hopes and joy.

©Linda Her and MidWest Solidarity Movement, 2011 – 2015. 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.

Raising UP Emily’s What’s After Acceptance Narrative

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Story #32

Em Thao is a 26 year old, identify as a Lesbian, and resides in California.

I knew I was gay when I was in the sixth grade chasing after this beautiful blonde named Georgia. Liking her was so normal to me because I wasn’t aware of what being gay and being straight was. I just knew that my heart goes spaghetti for her. I grew up thinking that I might just be bisexual which means I can I still marry a man and make my mom happy. After a few failed relationships with men, I concluded that I am definitely a lesbian. And that is how I knew.

I came out bisexual first to my friends, then my cousins and finally my brothers in high school. Everyone was very supportive, it was weird for my older cousins at first, but that dissipated quickly. My brothers never judged me, they could careless if I am gay or straight. I love them so much for that. It is because of this group of supportive people, I decided to come out to my mom at age 25. She always knew that I was gay, but she never wanted to to confirm it so she never ask me about it. We joke about it a few times, but that was that. I admit that I coming out to my mom could have been better on my end. I was scared so the words literally just spilled out. She said a few things and ran to her room. After a few months of not talking to each other, she finally told me that she love me and that I didn’t chose to be this way. She was just afraid of what people might say or do to me. At the moment, I am completely open to everyone in my family and group of friends. Co-workers are still a sensitive subject. Through my experience, I found out that Hmong Americans are more acceptable to homosexuality whereas the more traditional ones still have a backward way of thinking.

Flower Hmong schoolchildren. Bac Ha, Vietnam

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The issues of being Hmong LGBTQQI are marriage and children. How do you perform a ceremony with two women or two man? Who’s going to be the one to pay? What about children? We all know that Hmong parents are not very open minded when it comes to adoption, how will they treat their grandchildren? What will these children learn from their community? I am getting to that stage and I am afraid that I don’t know any of these answers.

I had a few Hmong LGBTQQI friends back when I was younger, but we lost touch over the years. It would be super awesome to have an organized group to just meet and greet with other Hmong LGBTQQI. We should let them know that they are not alone, there are people like them, especially the young ones.

If you’re compelled by Emily’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 – 2014. 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.

Raising UP Sooya’s Family, Gender & Role Model Narrative

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Story#15

Sooya Xiong is a 23 year old, Bisexual female, Shamanist residing in Wisconsin.

I was 12 years old when I knew that I was attracted to both genders. Was I confused? I sure was! My heart would start racing whenever I am around the “girl” with words that I can’t even describe. As for the “boy” it was more flirtation. It has been 10 years since I came out to my parents. The reason why I came out? Well, duh, I am positively sure that I liked both genders; that I was “gay.” I was in a “dark” phase at that time as a youth, and it was time to make a change. I wanted to be able to express myself and be accepted. I needed the family support, especially from my parents.

How did my parents take it? Of course they laugh at me because they thought that I was joking. The word “gay” has been use so much in the family to make fun of someone. It wasn’t until I kept bringing the subject up to my father to this day that he finally understands what it means. He knows I am “bi-sexual” and he supports me (however, we all know parents lecture you and hope that you will end up with the opposite sex).

SX2However it wasn’t until 2008 that I fully revealed myself physically to the entire family and extended families. After my high school graduation on that following Monday my sister shaved my head in our home in Chicago. My mother and siblings were also in the room. It sure did make me feel good because of the support I had. But then I was scared of my father’s reaction that he’ll flip out. He saw my baldness when he came home to Milwaukee the next day, but didn’t say anything. He just laughed. Now that’s a good sign. How did it make me feel? I felt relieved and happy! But then I was told to wear a wig whenever I attend “Hmong events” (which I completely understand why). My extended families and everyone else knew about my sexuality, but it was never really addressed or acknowledge. Some words were said to describe and address me here and there, such as “tomboy,” “hey, new boy,” “son” etc. The gender roles did not change, everyone still sees me as a Hmong woman encompassing the same respect, duties, chores, et.

Some of the issues that I am facing today is how can I as a person who identities both as Hmong LGBTQ and Hmong woman help the Hmong youth who are coming out. I believe I can be a support for other Hmong LGBTQ by providing a safe place for them, helping them deal with family issues, and creating a support system.

If you’re compel by Sooya’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.

Raising UP Yermay’s Family Acceptance & Recognition Narrative

Sept 099Story #12

Yermay Yang is a 33 year-old Hmong Queer Christian from Wisconsin.

 I first noticed that I was attracted to the same sex when I was in college. I realized that I was okay with liking beautiful women and that other people were not like me. When I finally understood what it meant to be a queer person, I felt liberated. My whole life made more sense.

 I wanted to come out so that I can live my life and not have this burden of hiding who I am. It was hard to have a relationship with my mother when I was still in the closet. When I finally told her, it felt like I could start to have a relationship with her again. Coming out was hard on me and my family. I am sure it was hard for my siblings as well because they also had to “come out” about having a queer sister. My father did not speak to me for a year. Through it all, I know my parents love me regardless and always welcome me into their home.

I am out to my family and close friends. My parents were the main people I officially needed to come out to and then they told others in my extended family. My life is not all about being queer so I only tell people I feel like it is needed.

 I do not feel that the Hmong community as a whole is supportive of LGBTQQI people. People still measure things in heteronormative terms. Sometimes queer people do not know how they can fit in within the larger Hmong community, so it makes it even harder for non-queer people to see how we as queer people can fit in. This is perhaps the reason why I have not heard of any past history or stories of Hmong LGBTQQI people.

 Finding acceptance and a place within the Hmong community is still an ongoing issue that Hmong queers face today. Sometimes being queer can take over a person. That is, they will only be known as that “gay person.” People start assuming things about what they are like and what they do. Because of this distorted view on what it means to be a LGBTQQI person within the Hmong community, Hmong queers find it even more difficult to live their lives.

thecolu.mn

If you’re compel by Yermay’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.

Raising UP LP’s Anew Beginning to Truthful & Honest Expressions Narrative.

Photo Credit The Voices Project

Kim Ho – Language of Love. Photo Credit The Voices Project

Story #9

LP is a 24 year-old gay man from Alaska. (LP is not the real name of the person of this story)

I am a late bloomer. I was 18 when I became aware that I was attracted to men. This instance occurred when I had met someone at my workplace, and I knew it was lust at first sight. At that moment, I felt as if the world had stop. Every time I am near or working beside him, I feel as if a sharp knife continually pierces through my heart. I became aware of everything about him, my face, his body, everything. I wanted to touch him, to kiss his lips, to feel his big bugle. I wanted him more than anything. Whenever we talk about girls, I became so arouse thinking of him giving it to me or me giving it to him. It was truly lust. That was my first instance of my own sexual desires and my own consciousness about who I was.

Like most Hmong family, I am very family orientated. My parents and my siblings are my life. If I was to come out, I feel I might lose my entire family or be kicked out of my house. Friends and family members who were on the outside are also my backbone. They have shaped me to become the person that I am today. If I were to reveal that part of me to them, I might lose everything that I had built with them.

Photo Credit: MWSMovement.com

I do not know if the Hmong community is supportive of me cause I have not had the chance to engage with the Hmong LGBTQQI community, nor had the chance to come out to them. I think most Hmong LGBTQQI are still silent or have to be silent because of the importance of “family values” in their lives. That is, most of the Hmong youth and those who are part of the older generations that I know are very family-orientated. That means that they are willing to give up their individuality for the betterment of the “family.” As long as “family values” remains unchangeable, and as long as that remains the barrier to coming out, then Hmong LGBTQQI will continue to live in silence. Personally for me, the main issue I face is that there isn’t a Hmong LGBTQQI community where I live. Thus, I do not have any opportunities to know and see any Hmong LGBTQQI faces. And again, the idea of “family value” continues to be a barrier for me because I am the oldest in my family and there are things that are expected of me which does not include coming out or being gay.

There are 3 reasons why I came out. First, I knew that I could not keep my sexuality as a secret for the rest of my life. I did not want to live in loneliness like how I used to be. I had always felt alone for most of my life and if I do not let myself be happy and loved for who I am, I might not want to be alive for much longer. Second, I knew that it would all be okay when I do come out. I am very fortunate and thankful to have a loving and supportive network of outside friends and family that were accepting of me. Last, I want to love and be loved by someone.

It has been 4 years since I first came out and many things did change. No one knew that I was gay because I am not stereo-typically gay, such as being flamboyant. Therefore it came as a shock to many people. It did take some time, but everyone eventually understood why I am the way I am. Like a puzzle, they put everything I had said and done together, and it made sense to them about who I am. I felt that a big burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I could begin to express my feelings more truthfully and honestly. In return, my spirit became lighter and happier. I care less about what other think or say about me because I already came out to the people whom I care and hold dearest to my heart already.

Bangkok Love Story. Photo Credit: http://formanz.com/

It was hard to come out because of the risks that I knew were coming and because of bonds I have made with my family and friends, but it took me a long time to realize that it is those bonds I had that gave me the courage to believe it would be okay and that things can get better. Although I am not out to everyone, I am out to certain people who matter to me and who made me feel safe to be who I am.

If you’re compel by LP’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.