Raising UP Kevin’s Liberated Narrative

684C9BDF-B923-4D0B-ACFA-BC4DE9530552_mw1024_n_s

voanews.com

Story #28

Kevin Thao is an 18 year old Hmong American and identifies as an Atheist gay male residing in Minnesota.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember how old, I always noticed this aesthetic feeling towards a male teacher. It’s hard to explain what I was feeling then, but I liked this teacher a lot, especially the way he looked at me. He made me feel, “Giddy” with excitement. So this made me want to go and talk with him.

I am out to only certain people because I still feel uncomfortable letting people know that I am gay. It’s because when I was a kid, I was bossed around, I was hated, and I was bullied. Growing up, I learned how to be independent so I don’t go out and meet people. Regardless, I had friends because of school, but I wouldn’t go hang out with them. Just growing up to be independent, I didn’t tell other people about what I was feeling or about of my life.

I came out roughly about 2 years ago because I was feeling lonely. At first, my parents said they didn’t mind then they changed their mind. They told me that there is no such thing as being gay as a “Hmong” person. Although they ignore me and do horrible things to me, I’ll just have to prove to them that I can be that better person.

Right now, I couldn’t care less about what I do outside in society, since I know who I am and that’s who I will be. I don’t mind telling people that I am gay, but I don’t go around telling them that I am gay. If people ask, I just give them a straight up answer. Being independent wasn’t helping me to what the real world was about. Out in the real world, you’re going to need to communicate, converse, and talking to other people whether it’s about business or just in general.

I definitely feel the Hmong Community is supportive of me. Although, I don’t hang out with many people, when I do, they already make me feel safe and comfortable of where I am and who I am.

I think that everything is fine. I believe that it should be always spread around communities because I want people to realize that a man and women isn’t just the only thing that exist in this world.

If you’re compelled by Kevin’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.

Advertisements

Raising UP Su’s Short but Sweet Narrative

yes-or-no-kim-pie-kiss

rebzombie.com

Su is a 16 year old who identifies as a Lesbian residing in MN.

I was 12 when I saw my sister’s friend making out with her girlfriend. She explained that this was normal and if I accepted it as normal, I would be happier with my life not miserable. So as I grew up they took me more and more places with them to hang out with other girls like them. They all gave me kisses and eventually they made me kiss a girl on the lips! At first it felt weird, but after a while I thought, maybe I’m lesbian after all!

The only issue I’m facing right now is trying to hide this from my parents. When i’m older I’m sure I can prove I love her (my girlfriend) and that she loves me!

If you’re compelled by Su’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 Meng’s Feeling Free Narrative

1524962_692126054151497_12239647_nStory #23

Meng Vang is a 22 year-old Gay and Hmong-American man from Minnesota.

There wasn’t a certain age when I knew I was gay, but it was probably during middle school. I only knew that I was different because when I am with a girl or girlfriend, I do not feel any attraction towards her, or she doesn’t turn me on. During this time, I still had no idea what gay even was. It wasn’t until my freshman year that I started to notice that guys are what attracts me, guys are what turns me on, guys are my thing, guys are…..they just are.

I still remember why I didn’t want to come out. I was afraid of not being accepted by the community and also by my family. What should I expect after I tell them I am gay? It’s the after effects that scares me about coming out. Where would I go if I was disowned? Will I be able to make it alone in this world where no one understands me? Is death the only solution in the end? These “what ifs” are what causes me to stay hidden. There are many more but these are only some questions in which I often relate to.

The only issue I face is that I take medicine every day from my parents in hopes that I will turn straight for them, but the reality is, I’m gay and this is who I am. I believe being disowned by our family is the biggest struggle that currently impact the lives of Hmong LGBTQ. Hmong culture, well speaking of it, traditional Hmong culture see no value in this topic. It is considered a taboo and being gay is the worst way to be looked down upon. Only if those traditional Hmong people had a little change of education on this topic, they will realize that being different isn’t that bad. It is actually a normal thing like any other identity. I believe Hmong LGBTQ can fit and exist anywhere in the Hmong community, it only takes time to notice that our voices are here.

bonfire

MWSM’s Asian American Marriage Equality Get Together

My first time meeting other Hmong LGBTQ was when a fellow Hmong gay individual invited me to a Hmong LGBTQ BBQ that was celebrating the marriage equality law that recently passed in Minnesota. After that night, I have heard many coming out stories that was basically like how I would manage my coming out story. Well, I came out at the age of 21, why? I really wasn’t expecting to come out yet until I’m done with my education and am financially stable if I were to be alone. But then things took a turn at an event where both parties misunderstood each other and had mistaken the meanings that both parties had spoken about. So then, the only thing I had in mind was the other party caught on and so I might as well tell the truth, but I did it with confidence knowing and hearing many stories already. I held my head up high and proud. I was excited to finally be set free from this burden. Somehow it feels different, yet somehow it feels as if there are no change to it at all. It is as if it was a day fling thing and after that, things went back to normal.

I am no different than anyone else. It’s either they accept or I can careless. Being happy of who I am in life is the biggest success I can have in life. Like I have said many times to this other dork person who is openly gay, I’m not shy if you out me now. I’m not shy to kiss or hold your hands in public. I’m open to show my real self to public, but when you feel comfortable to do things in public, feel free to hold my hands, kiss my cheek, as long as you’re comfortable doing it to me in public. This dork person surprisingly feels the same way.

If you’re compelled by Meng Vang’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.

MWSM @ 2013-2014 MN Hmong American New Year Metrodome

MWSM at the 2013-2014 MN Hmong American New Year Metrodome, our collective canvassed and outreach to over 100 people including young people and elders.

We handed out safe sex kits and MWSM pamphlets, Our Narrative and Movements: Peb Yog Hmoob Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer & Transgender. The pamphlet includes common questions of ‘coming out’ for Hmong LGBTQ people, and common questions about acceptance for Parents/Family with LGBTQ children/family members. To personalize, we quoted Hmong LGBTQ individuals who have contributed their diverse experiences in ‘coming out’ from our 2013 Hmong LGBTQQI Narratives Campaign. Lastly, you can read about the resources, trainings, researches and campaigns we currently have and are working on to enable us to be equipped in supporting our LGBTQ family and community members.

1506720_10104040234200210_202964060_n

Raising UP Cuajleeg Kennedy Yang’s Journey Forward Narrative

Disclaimer:
———————

I am going to take a different route in this endeavor of sharing narratives of being queer Hmong/SEA.  I never had a difficult time coming out or accepting myself as queer.  I do have troubles seeing what is to become of us, queer SEA, in our journey forward after we have come out.  Although these past stories have moved me like never before, I have had struggles that have prepared me for coming out and thus my “coming out” story has not been as inspirational.

———————

kennedy2

Cuajleeg Kennedy Yang (2013)

Story #21

Before my parent’s divorce when I was around 8-9 years old, I was just happy being myself and loving the things that I did.  Although I had toy guns and action figures as a boy, I also had dolls and mermaids.  I loved what I loved and grew a fondness for mermaids.  This love for myself was reinforced and supported by my loving family who did not care that I had an affinity for “girly” toys.  I lived with this joy throughout my childhood and nothing could have been better.  Happiness was only temporary for me though, because it took the separation of my parents to force my own growth.

Initially, I was fine and accepted my parents’ divorce.  I knew intuitively that they just didn’t function the way they used to together anymore.  However, my siblings took things differently because this divorce broke them down and shook them up.  It was like a fissure that thrashed, tore, and destroyed what they once knew was home.  Some of my siblings remained physically and mentally strong, while others were still struggling; still trying to recover from a harsh events that turned into their reality.  Out of the strong and the weak, I was one of the strong and so I did all I could to aid.

Due to this unavoidable situation my mom went through many financial hardships trying to pay off bills here and there and maintaining a house. My oldest sister struggled and persevered just trying to hold the bond of our family together.  Some of my other siblings just shut down after the divorce while the others learned to cope with the situation.  The middle brother had grown up as an angry child only to have this divorce amplify those issues.  One of my other brothers and I became his outlet for anger and we were bullied daily by him. I was targeted more so than the other and my siblings saw that, but did not know how to respond other than just shrugging it off and blaming his personality.  Despite this daily struggle I helped my family with chores around the house, like washing the dishes, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and generally just tending to my mom.

I remember whenever I would go crying to my siblings or parents, because I was being bullied, they’d always tell me to be the bigger person.  This began sinking in because I then embodied it by brushing my own feelings aside, thinking that they were wrong to have.  There were moments in my life where I remembered just crying out of no where and not knowing why.  Crying out of no where and realizing that I myself was not even feeling sad.  Crying out of no where and then telling myself that I was weak for doing so. I remember looking into the mirror and training myself to learn how to not cry because I could not take being vulnerable and targeted anymore. What I did not know was that I had come to silence myself so much that I had become detached from my own feelings and emotions.

You would think that I could find solace from this over at my dad’s house, but that wasn’t the case.  I was one of the only children to visit him and sleep over on a weekly basis.  I knew that he loved me and I loved him too.  However before I would go, my mom would tell me that I was never going to be worthy of his love because of the sole fact that I was also her son.  I remember hearing from my father multiple times that my mother did not even love me and is only using me for child support money.  At such an early age, I had to learn how to interpret their messages because they were only protecting me from the harm that they had faced with each other.  This however also bred much distrust and corruption within myself, and also brought so much internalized pain and altered my idea of love.

I began seeing the flaw within all that I cared for, and in order to protect myself from the risk of any further internal mutilation, as well as of my own growing bias of those I cared for, I closed myself off and denied myself the one thing that I always wanted and knew: love. I suffocated my heart and crushed any feelings that began to flourish all because I would rather have dealt with that pain than the more overpowering torture of loving someone, only to realize that it was all a lie.  All that had laid where my heart used to be was nothing but an empty husk of hollowness that slowly pulsated, gasping for life as the void slowly crept inside and began growing within it.

Darkness was the only thing that that held my heart, free of judgment and unconditionally, I was all too eager to accept whatever embraced me in that way.  I came to love the one thing that had been there with me throughout all the tribulations.  It was the only thing that evoked me of my humanity while I already lingered so far off the edge.  It constantly reminded me of how alive I had been through the sufferings that I endured.  When I could no longer see with a clear conscious and vision, it was darkness that enabled me to feel instead.  The very sensation that I had casted away.  I flourishing in the shadows of my own isolation.

I became my own morphed beacon of hope.  My mentality evolved from corruption into my own truth of knowing, that in the end, I was always going to be alone in my own journey and that no matter how similar someone was to me they would never completely understand. There was a haunting tranquility in knowing that even though there are those who loved me, they will not always be there; and the only person to be there with me in the face of darkness will be myself. So from this, I learned how to stand on my own and thus began my transformation into who I am today.

It has been and still is such a lonely path that I continue to tread on.  Overwhelming sadness that crawls through me and makes me motionless at the most spontaneous of times.  What seems like demons whispering into my ears and twisting my mind.  Pushing people who care for me away and bringing myself solitude just so that I can feel the familiar and welcomed touch of sadness to rush through me and have me feel something if anything at all.  Realizing that moments of true happiness has escaped from me and then already being so out of tune with myself that I was never present to experience them.  The most unbearable feeling of all though are the moments where I sense a state of surrealness within myself.  The feeling radiates coldness as well as warmth through my body, but I have become so numb that it even happens; it is as if I am undergoing an outer body effect.  Purgatory would seem is the closest definition that I have to describing it.  Neither feeling good or neither feeling bad, just there as if I was nothing at all and what seems like a moment just stops and feels like an eternity.

kennedy3

Cuajleeg Kennedy Yang (2013)

The only things that seemed to have grounded me into reality was different aspects of myself who made me, me.  Part of that is myself identifying as a queer hmong man.  I had previous thoughts about this in middle school when I would be called gay on a weekly schedule, but I never thought of it as an insult nor was it spoken to me as such.  It was nothing big for me though, I was not going to let folks define me anyways.  One of the only examples was that I remembered this boy who was very handsome named Jared who just had an amazing smile, amazing hair texture, and style.  Sadly he moved away when it came time to high school.  Other than that one singular attraction, I hadn’t really thought about my sexuality back then.

This did get my mind going about what I really did find attractive, in terms of man or woman.  I began thinking and coming into realization that I had a different and stronger attraction towards men.  This was not coalesced until my sophomore year in high school because I was able to better articulate and have more access to resources to learn from.  I was more equipped to look up terms and definitions to identify myself more.

I officially “came” out to my sister when I was able to define myself.  It was just a weekday and my sister was in her room.  I had gone in very quietly and just said that I needed to talk.  When I finally told her that I was gay, she consoled me and said everything would be fine.  During that time I had cried and only after I “came out”, did I realize that I had nothing to cry about because there was and is nothing wrong with being queer.  After this, I never came out again because it shouldn’t be an “obstacle” that us queers, majority of the time, dread looking forward to.  I am fine with expressing my sexuality but it is but a part that contributes to a larger picture of the whole person that I am.

When seeking out help and friends from the gay community, I was mistaken by many folks whom were interested in other things.  I was not looking for sex at all and only looking to expand my perspectives and insights as a queer Hmong man.  One thing that I do remember was that majority of the people who messaged me were old white men.  It was fine but when they were only trying to dominate me, that was when I had enough of them.  I did message out other folks with more diverse backgrounds but only things I received were silence or ignorance.  I was so done with this and so I went back into my mind.  I did this to find out and process why and how racist and sexist the gay community really is.

Having become my own support, I was able to rely on myself again when I was not receiving support from the gay community. I casted them aside because they were nothing but a mirror of the oppressive ways that I did not need or wanted to be a part of.  I once again shut myself out but I am glad that I did this time because I was then able to seek out more specialized support with other Queer Asian Folks whom were not internalizing racism and sexism.  This then has lead me to being great friends and acquaintances with wonderful people who do great work with racial, social, economic, and intersections of all injustices in our world.  (MWSM)

There are also a lot of things that I wanted to incorporate into this story and how each aspect of my life had intertwined and affected one another, but for the sake of time and my own sanity, I have chosen a few major events that have shaped me.  Other things that I wanted to incorporate were: White Supremacy, Racism, Race, Classism, Sexism, Sexism within the Gay Community, White Supremacy within the gay community, body imaging, Social Justice works, and much much more. If you all have any questions, I am a core member of MWSM so feel free to send me an email Cuajleeg@mwsmovement.com a phone number can also be provided via email.

kennedy1

If you’re compelled by Kennedy’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.

2013 Minnesota Hmong New Year Outreach

image

Today at the Hmong New Year in St. Paul, our collective canvassed and outreach to over 100 people including young people and elders, and over a dozen institutions.

We handed out MWSM pamphlets, Our Narrative and Movements: Peb Yog Hmoob Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer & Transgender. The pamphlet includes common questions of ‘coming out’ for Hmong LGBTQ people, and common questions about acceptance for Parents/Family with LGBTQ children/family members. To personalize, we quoted Hmong LGBTQ individuals who have contributed their diverse experiences in ‘coming out’ from our 2013 Hmong LGBTQQI Narratives Campaign. Lastly, you can read about the resources, trainings, researches and campaigns we currently have and are working on to enable us to be equipped in supporting our LGBTQ family and community members.

1463557_10152405659845410_703226879_n

Half of MWSM members @HNY2013

Don’t Buy Miss Saigon: Our Truth Project

Linda Hawj – Miss Saigon Lies, Don’t Buy it! Boycott The Ordway Theater!

 

My name is Linda Hawj. I’m an artist, activist & organizer from Minnesota. As a 2nd generation, Hmong American, queer womyn of color, this is my truth.

What kind of Minnesota & country are we living in when Vietnamese people, Southeast Asians & Asian Americans, their history & experiences are compromised & violently eliminated repeatedly? All because White people & White Supremacy cries censorship about their White privilege no longer having the “freedom to express” their racist art. What’s truly sad & horrible is how White Supremacy have & continues to police & control what is Racial Justice & Equity, & the Non-Profit Organizations, leaders, politicians, funders & foundations who do “Racial Justice & Equity work” & serve the Southeast Asian, Asian American & Communities of Color. Your White Supremacy is all the Executives, Presidents, CEOs, Boards, Committees, funders & donors, majority all head by rich, White Privileged people that call the shots in their capitalist, political strategies.

3 Actions You Can Take to Support & Share to Mobilize:

1) SUBMIT YOUR TRUTHS HERE: http://dontbuymiss-saigon.tumblr.com/

2) SIGN OUR PETITION HERE: http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/DontBuyMissSaigon?source=field

3) The Don’t Buy Miss Saigon Coalition is taking both individual and organizational endorsements of its statement to stand in solidarity to end Institutional racism, sexism & colonialism. Contact us for more information: dontbuymisssaigon@gmail.com