Raising UP John’s Painful Past to a Brighter Future Narrative

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sites.dartmouth.edu

Story #18

John is a 20 year-old gay Hmong man from California.

I remember the first time I came out was to a classmate in the 2nd grade. The classmate asked me jokingly, “John, which guy do you like?” I told her I liked a certain boy in the 4th grade and I answered with his name. It was the most shameful day of my life. The girls in my class yelled and hollered that I have a crush on this guy and it made me cry. Ever since then, I was constantly bullied by the girls in my class until recently. On the other hand, I came out to my high school teacher that I was confused of my sexuality. I knew I was either bisexual or gay but in the end I found out I’m attracted to men.

The first reason why I haven’t come out yet to my family is because of my parents would be angry for ruining their last name. Secondly, it’s hard and it’s going to be difficult for them to accept a Gay family member in their home, especially if I brought over a boyfriend to hang out. Lastly, I’m not so sure if I can get married with my partner, so I’m not ready yet, but probably one day I’ll confront them.

Xhokeezheng Photography

I’m my opinion, the Hmong community is not really supportive of Hmong LGBTQ, because some of our parents or family from Laos or Thailand is still really old fashioned. They don’t really think about sexuality besides beginning a family or having a career in becoming a doctor. I believe that most LGBTQs in the Hmong community should test their family members to see if they do care whether or not their children are LGBTQ.

My little brother is the baby in my family and told me he was gay at age 16, but he was scared to come out, and so, I understood him. I’m a big brother that he mostly follows and talks with to express his feelings.  I’m glad that I became a part of his world to influence him to be a strong and brave person…

For now, my issues are confronting my parents; my confidence depends on some people, for example, some straight guys that understand LGBTQ, because there are some that don’t like gay guys around them. It makes them badly nervous and it makes them think that we only want to have sex with them, but we aren’t. We are just trying to build a relationship with other gay men and connections with everyone.

Some of my friends and teachers understand my issue and it makes me feel like I have another family who understands the feeling and pain I’m going through this whole lifetime.

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If you’re compelled by John’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.

Raising UP JV’s Transformation and Desire for Consciousness Narrative

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Saving Face (2004)
queerious.com

Story #17

JV is a 25 year old, Hmong American, identifies as a lesbian and residing in Wisconsin.

When I was 13 years old. I was felt confused, unsure of why I had such feelings for the same-sex. So I did what every pre-teen did, I hid it from myself and everyone else. I tried my best to be normal.

I’m out to my parents, all my cousins, and my friends. I made choice not to come out to my elders, out of respect for my parents. I choose to come out because I didn’t want to live a lie anymore. I was tired of living a double life. I was tired lying to people I love. When I first came out it was hard, my parents took really hard. They didn’t speak to me for a few months. I mean I understood why they were so hurt by choice. It’s been eight years now since came out to my parents and things have changed a lot. My parents have done 180 and they support my choice. I mean don’t get me wrong there is still a longs way to go but I’m truly blessed to have wonderful parents. I’m also very proud of both them for making such a great change.

I honestly don’t feel that the Hmong Community is very supportive. I feel as if we exist only in the shadows of the Hmong culture because it is such taboo for our culture. It’s something that is frowned upon and never spoken of. Though we exist, we hide to save face.

I think that the main issues is just acceptance from our community. We’re all still Hmong, even though we’re gay, lesbian, transgender, bi, or queer. Hmong blood pumps our veins and into our hearts. We are all Hmong before we’re anything else, so why can’t we be accepted?

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hmongthrills.tumblr.com

If you’re compel by JV’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.

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 Pheng’s School Challenges and Discovery Narrative

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Story#14

Pheng is a  year old and identifies as a gay male residing in California.

I didn’t realize it until the end of my freshmen year in high school. I’ve always been attracted to men – both physically and emotionally. I guess I was just so used to ignoring my true feelings because of how I grew up.

Growing up I always was surrounded by girls, rarely guys. I just felt more comfortable around them than anyone else. I would do so much with my aunt and cousins (all female) whether it be playing house, playing with their barbies or stuffed animals, and even watching movies of Barbie, princesses, mermaids, you name it.

My memories bring me back to always not fitting in with the guys while playing sports; they played too harsh for me and used too much profanity for my taste. So instead I played tetherball with the majority of the girls; I was the best of course. But every time I did try to play with the boys, now that I think back, I was just being taken advantage of. I wasn’t there to play, I was there to be used, to catch the ball and hand it over to one of the “better” guys. Absolutely ridiculous. Playing tetherball with the girls though, that was a joy. I was always so competitive, so passionate about my doings when around them; I was comfortable. I just didn’t fit in with the guys, they did things out of my interest; video games being one of them. When I try to hang out with them, it just didn’t seem right. It was awkward, and let me mention, boring. But having hung out with my female cousins so often, I grew to have a feminine personality, and I’m admitting it now. My gestures, the way I talk, and the way I walk; it was something else. And for that, I was bullied and tormented my whole childhood.

Growing up I was a careless child, or so I thought. When being called names and such, I recall ignoring them, yes, but at the same time – I was dying inside. I hated myself and how and who I was as a person. None of my girl friends at school seemed to notice anything of course, but the guys did. We’re talking elementary school here, I was so young. At my elementary school, there was a certain group of boys in my grade and the next; they were my bullies. I remember being called gay, gayass, f***** fag, loser; you get the point. Like I said, I ignored the majority of it; after all, I’ve been doing it since forever.

One time at one of our annual school carnivals, one of those boys called me a “fag” and pushed me on the ground, scraping my knee. It was bleeding and I didn’t know what to do but kneel on the ground huddling my bleeding knee. I remember my sister Yer being there too, coming out of the crowd and shoving him while screaming something like “What the f***, why’d you push my brother?,” as he walked away chuckling. I still need to thank her for that. I think I was bullied so much throughout my elementary years; I didn’t even care much anymore.

Another situation I recall is having been dared to touch a girl’s butt to prove to a student of my grade that I wasn’t gay. Of course, I attempted it but I didn’t end up doing it. At the end because of talkers a couple students and I got escorted to the principal’s office. I did my part of the explanation, and didn’t get in any trouble. I guess my good grades and relation to my principal saved me from trouble. He knew me, I was everywhere. I was probably the biggest troublemaker at the school; but I had good grades and supporting teachers so I never really got in major trouble.

The last of my drama in elementary school would have to be when I got 3 of the 6th graders (I was in 5th) in trouble, possibly suspended (I don’t recall), for calling me gay. I was switched seats, and sat by friendlier people. I think I made such a big deal of being called “gay” that our principal addressed the situation at an assembly. Now that I think about it, I feel pretty darn special for him to have made a statement protecting my rights (not directly, but I got the feeling).

As far as my childhood in elementary, family wise, I would have to say it was just as bad; but different. I took it more personal, because it was my family, cousins, that kept bugging me and calling me names. It was usually my cousins that were teens and in their twenties. I was always questioned about who I hang out with, the way I talk and walk the way I do, basically everything. Like I said, I’ve been trying to ignore negative comments so much I got used to it; therefore sometimes I just zoned people out. Maybe it was because I was mad? Disappointed in myself? I know I just didn’t ignore their comments, because if I did, I wouldn’t be writing this. I wouldn’t recall those hurtful remarks that scarred me as a child. All the things I chose to ignore, today, is everything about me.

Some of the things an older cousin of mine have said to me when I was a kid, I still stuck to me till this day. I do so because it’s one of the reasons why I am able to reflect and admit to myself that through out my childhood to my freshmen year in high school, I was running away from this big truth to my life. I hear his exact voice saying this every time I think about it, “Pheng, if you ever turn gay, I’m going to kick your ass.” Me, feeling like a glass that just hit concrete; shattered. A little was the content, more it was because he was one of the very few of my cousins that I truly look up to. Since then, I grew to be more afraid of what others thought of me.

Growing up and going to middle school I told myself that I was straight. Even bisexual was out of the question. I looked at girls only. I had a couple girlfriends, which definitely made my parents happy; and me, temporarily. But I can’t help but think back on checking out all the guys at school. I could remember more cute guys than I could remember the girls. Boys in the locker room, them playing ball in the gym, everything about guys excited me. Teacher, substitutes, my fellow classmates, the list goes on and on of my attraction towards them but of course too scared and ignorant to admit it to myself; so I continued thinking the way I did about “being gay”, that it was a bad thing.

Then I hit high school, which would be about 2 years ago. I still considered myself straight. Through middle school and most of my freshmen year when I was asked if I was gay or even bisexual, I made sure I immediately reply, “no” or “of course not”. That seemed to help suppress my feelings towards men. Not until I found online resources, press about gay equality; it was then that I had to at least think about it. Events that really impacted my thoughts of life and people in general was some of the educational conferences I applied for and got into at colleges in California. Pursuit of Higher Education (POHE) and ShadowNite at UC Berkeley were the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever had. There was such a diverse group of students there, everybody fitting in regardless of race, personal differences, or sex orientations. I then was not only motivated to pursue high education; but to pursue myself. Reach the heart of my soul, hug it, comfort it, and tell myself that I’ll be okay to be what I want to be. I thought a lot about it, and couldn’t deny the truth. At the end of freshmen year I progressed to thinking I was bisexual.

Sophomore year is when I came to the realization and understanding of my true self, I am simply gay. I could tell you that I am so much of a happier person now that I am able to express myself in the ways I want to. I don’t have to say things that’ll hide my identity. I don’t have to deny the fact that I truly am indeed attracted to my same sex. I don’t have to deny me. I am truly happy, I am satisfied, actually grateful, of the person I’ve become.

Now here’s what everyone’s been waiting to read — my coming out story. I actually just came out to my dad, him being the last one to know in my intermediate family, about a month ago. It was harsh, as for things happened very oddly. My close friends and siblings in my household knew about me being gay and they were supportive; which I’m thankful for. But let’s start with coming out to my mom, who is a very nice lady. I would always tease about having to tell her something. One night, she came and laid next to me on my bed. She asked in Hmong, “What do you need to tell me?” I said like I usually do, “nothing Mom, I’m just messing with you.” And eventually after constant questioning and assumptions, I told her. Her reaction took me by surprise. She stopped talking, stared at me, and I saw the rage build up in her little by little. Looking at me straight in the eyes she exploded with questions like, “who told you that?”, “who’d you hear that from?”, and ended off with saying “I don’t want to hear those words from your mouth again.” I was devastated. Out of all the people in the world, I would at least expect her to understand and accept me for who I am. She was my mom. I was disappointed and felt uneasy. For the next couple of days I randomly feared that she may do something to me, just because she and people of my religion were so against it. After all, I am the first Lor in my family to be gay. But of course I was just thinking way too much. My mom later then tried to convince the rest of my siblings to persuade me to change who I am, they simply shut her down. They supported me and argued against my mom. My mom is now slowly, but progressively, coming to an understanding of who I am and that it wasn’t easy for me, all that I went through to be who I am today.

The story to my dad finding out about me, is an interesting and emotional one. My relatives from another state started talking about me I guess. Started spreading rumors, messing with my step mom, my dad, and my older sisters’ head. They were so confused and shocked about what they were hearing; that I was gay. My dad called me out of my room, to sit next to him and discuss my situation with him as a few of my family members were present to support me. He asked if I was going to confirm that the rumor is true, or deny it. I tried my best to slowly let him know that it wasn’t just a rumor. I could of lied to him to make things a lot easier, but I honestly couldn’t; and at the end I admitted it to him. He was speechless. He lectured me, as he started choking in tears. I did the same as I just shut up and listened. Tears after tears, I grew a little stronger. I started reasoning with him, as he kept on repeatedly saying that I couldn’t fulfill my duties as being a person, being Hmong, if I was gay. He was furious, he didn’t want to hear a word from me, and nothing I said would change his mind. And I know him too well, I argued the least I could because I just know there was no point in arguing with my dad.

It’s been a month or so since I came out to everybody. I know my parents are disappointed in me, upset, a little of everything. But I can’t do anything other than hope and keep hoping for their understanding. It’s tough, it really is. Especially when you look at your parents and see disappointment in their eyes, no joyful facial expressions at all sometimes. But there’s something I know and they know, is that I’m not a half-bad son. My grades are good, I’m involved in school, I work and support myself, in what way have I not satisfied their wants and needs other than now? I have a strong feeling that one day it will all be better. That time will heal this brokenness between us all. My parents are unconditional lovers and I have no doubt they’ll still be there by my side at the end.

Being gay, it’s never easy to express your sex orientation. There are always different thoughts and opinions out there of LGBTQQI people like us. We’re still the same person as we were yesterday, maybe one or two things have changed, but does that make us a bad person? It doesn’t, not one bit. Yes, you’ve changed, but you changed for the better; for yourself. Resources and support is out there, in social media, community organizations, or even clubs at school. Be sure to surround yourself with them, it’ll do nothing but benefit you. I live in Fresno, CA, and the community is as supportive as can be. Although the Hmong community in particular may not be as open to it as I would like; I am here to make a change. Take a stand, represent us people of color, and make sure that future generations can feel as comfortable in their own shoes as can be.

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http://www.icatpic.com/

My advice to anybody and everybody out there is that it gets better, just be patient. Those struggles, those tears, those years and years of confusion and possibly even misery, that’s all hard work. To define who you are, to find yourself, and build yourself to be the strongest person you’ll ever know. That’s the challenge and at the end of the day; it’s just up to you to decide who you want to be tomorrow. Be patient, embrace the love and support around you. You’re living in a world of rainbows, just keep your head up and smile, embrace your true colors.

If you’re compel by Pheng’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.

What Does Marriage Equality Mean for the Hmong American Community?

Make sure to grab your Hmong Today newspaper and check out one of our collective member, activist & scholar Kong Pha’s piece on ‘What Does Marriage Equality Mean For the Hmong American Community?’ Drop us a few comments, let us know what you think Marriage Equality means for the Hmong American community and to you.

Hmong Today Newspaper: Hmong Americans & Marriage Equality

Raising UP J.H.’s Growth and Patience Narrative

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Story#13

J.H. is a 31 year old, Hmong American and identifies as a gay male residing in California.

I believe I was in the 5th grade when I knew that I was not like my other males friends. It was my first time watching the movie Pretty Woman and I just thought that Richard Gere was the hottest guy that I had ever seen. I don’t remember feeling abnormal because I had older sisters and I just thought that it was normal.

I came out because I felt that it was part of growing up and accepting yourself, but I’m not out to my parents. I just can’t find the right time and the right words in Hmong to tell them. I also remember that when I came out in the 90’s, I felt like I was the only one. I was the only Hmong person at every gay event that I went to. It wasn’t until the early to the mid 2000s when I started seeing and meeting other gay Hmong folks.

Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of any Hmong LGBTQ stories but I do know that in my family there are men and women who lived their whole life as a single individual until they day they died. I think there isn’t much support in the Hmong community because being gay is “new” and  I strongly believe there is a lack of the Hmong community support.

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If you’re compel by J.H.’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 MYY’s Family Is the Biggest Inspiration & Support to Coming OUT Narrative

http://www.salon.com/2005/06/17/saving_face/

Saving Face film. Photo Credit Salon.com

Story #10

MYY is a shamanist, 21 year-old woman who identifies as bisexual from Wisconsin.

The first time I notice that I was attracted to the same-sex was when I was 12 years old. I could not understand why I was feeling that way about this new girl I just met. All I knew was that I was very attracted to her and I wanted to know if she had felt the same about me. When I confronted her with my feelings, she nicely rejected and explained to me that she did not feel the same way as me. After that happened, I tucked away how I felt about girls and started dating boys. At the time, I was confused as to why I had felt that way, but I didn’t look too much into it.

Hmong Trans* & Queers Rally at St. Paul Capitol for LGBTQ Justice & Equity

Hmong Trans* & Queers Rally at St. Paul Capitol for LGBTQ Justice & Equity – Photo Credit MWSMovement.com

I’m very close to my family, so I turned to them hoping they could help me. I did not know what to expect from them because this whole thing happened so quick. Surprisingly, they were very understanding and supportive. They told me that they will always accept me for who I am, so I should accept me for who I am as well. From there, I started dating my first ex-girlfriend. My family was such a big inspiration because they were there every step of the way while I was trying to figure myself out and come out to my other love ones. It’s been four years now that I’m out and none of my relationships has changed at all. Everything is going well for me right now.

I don’t feel as if the Hmong Community is supportive of me but I don’t blame them. This is a very touchy and new subject in our Hmong community. I think with a little courage and a lot of education, we can fix that problem. I didn’t even know that we have Hmong LGBTQ organizations out there. I recently found out about an organization from Minnesota called Shades of Yellow. The Asian organization from my university invited SOY to our speak out during Asian Heritage Month back in April, and I was so moved and inspired during their presentation. I think LGBTQ does fit in our Hmong Culture but it’s going to take a lot of time before it fully fits in. I feel that we should speak out more about it and educated those who know little about the LGBTQ community. I believe that in 10-15 years from now, LGBTQ will be accepted and become a part of our Hmong Culture.

Photo Credit MWSM

Hmong queers Vote NO on Marriage Amendment 2012 – Photo Credit MWSM

One of the issues I’m facing today is deciding on which path I want to take on for the future. I’m the next one in line to get married in my family, and I’m also the only one who is not heterosexual. My family accepts me for who I am but what I always question myself if I want to marry a man or a woman, if I want a Hmong wedding, and how do I want to start my family. Yes, I understand that you can get all those regardless of your sexuality but I see the kind of a family my siblings have and that’s what I want as well. I think the Hmong LGBTQQI community is being impacted by our old traditions.

The reason I’m only out to certain people is because people are so quick to judge. All the amazing people who truly love and care for know about my sexuality, and they’re very supportive. It’s the new people that I meet that makes me iffy about if I want to share that kind of personal information with them. They don’t know me enough to understand where I’m coming from, which I don’t blame them. Plus, I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable around me.

If you’re compel by MYY’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.