Raising Up Our Narratives for Change Jan 2015

We’ve been away to rest, school, work, and take care of our families, and ourselves in the past several months. We are in the process of re-launching our Raising Up Our Narratives to shake up Minnesota Nice with our Asian Trans* and Queer selves this January 2015. Stay tune!

At this time we have decided to close submissions for one our important online organizing efforts, Raising Up The Hmong LGBTQQI Narratives to re-launch a new version. The Narratives campaign has amplified the many truths, struggles, and positive sides of being Hmong and LGBTQQI. We received over 30 submissions from across the states, and have reached over 16,000 views from around the world since publishing the stories more than a year ago. Additionally, we’ve also received positive messages from our readers who can identify with the stories. Writing and speaking is important in documenting our existences into history, and to end the dangerous and silencing idea that “There are no Hmong gays (LGBTQQI) ever.” There are still several remaining Hmong LGBTQQI Coming OUT stories that will be posted on December 12, 2014, and throughout this month.

Your story is important. If you are interested in sharing your story with our Narrative 2.0, getting involved, or have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact Dee at dee@mwsmovement.com.

Thank you to all who have shared their stories, creating visibility, and speaking your truths.

Advertisements

Raising UP Emily’s What’s After Acceptance Narrative

dohnut_4

enjoythaimovies.com

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

terragalleria.com

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 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 AV’s Not Alone Hmong Bisexual Narrative

tumblr_mrvscryJ441r13rduo1_500

fencesitterfilms.tumblr.com

Story #22
AV is a 15 year-old, Hmong American, female, bisexual, and Christian from Wisconsin.

I was probably at the age of 13 when I first noticed that I was attracted to people of the same-sex. I always thought that being bisexual was a choice. It took me awhile to actually admit to myself that I liked both boys and girls. I found it easy to tell my friends and parents. It seemed my parents were willing to accept my bisexuality, especially the fact that my mom wished I was a son. So as I became older, I tended to just open up and tell others that I am bisexual. However, I do feel embarrassed sometimes when I reveal that to others. I felt like people were getting into my businesses. I didn’t like that my family members would ask me why I like girls. They would constantly ask if I have a girlfriend. I felt annoyed because I am a teenager and I wanted people to mind their own businesses.

I do not have a specific reason why I came out. On a specific occasion, we were partying and out of nowhere I started making out with a girl. I felt like I pressured that person to do it, but she said she was fine with it. Therefore, people started to notice I was a bisexual and it felt okay because I did not have to hide it anymore at that instant. It has been 2 years now since my friends know about my sexuality. However, those who do not know do tend to become very upset when I tell them now. Overall, my relationships with everyone is going fine, except my relationships with my siblings, and especially my sisters. They do not like it. They always think that I am lying, but here I am, I want to tell everyone that deep down inside me, I do like girls.

I don’t have much to say about coming out, however, because I did not feel that it was not hard for me to open up to others. However, for those who have a harder time coming out and opening up to others, especially gay men, I do feel very sorry and for them. I think their fathers will be especially hard on them. I encourage them to keep trying and to follow their heart. I am able to say that I am accepted by my parents and friends. For this, I would like to thank them for understanding and loving me. I will and want to help and share stories with those who are Hmong LGBTQ, especially those who are going through hard times in life.

hmong-2

thitbokho.wordpress.com

Sometimes I do feel that the Hmong community is supportive, or at least aware, of  Hmong LGBTQ. I have have seen videos of Hmong LGBTQ that are out, and have done videos. Knowing that I am not alone, and knowing that I can accept the fact that I am bisexual makes me happy. I believe people who are LGBTQ exist everywhere in Hmong communities across the country. The problem is that it is hard to open up and be out, especially since rumors and gossips spread quickly. However, I encourage those out there to open up and go meet new friends. Who knows, you might even meet your future love.

I am involved in a Hmong organization called Hmong American Women Association. One day, the counselor was talking about being LGBTQ with one of the volunteer there. Her name was Sooya. I give credits to her because I think she is amazing. That is all that I have heard anyone speak openly about being LGBTQ. I think the organization can provide others with sources about being lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

If you’re compelled by AV’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 Jackie’s Realization & Navigation Narrative

comingout-Ubin-Li

mochimag.com

Story #19

Jackie is a 22 year-old, Hmong American lesbian from California.

Like everything in my life I was first “awaken” when I was in third grade (roughly 8 or 9 years old). If you know me, you would know that it was a big year for me. It started with the discovery of Santa’s identity, realization that childhood is not like time and space (it has an ending point), and my curiosity for girls. More about me – I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I have one older sister, two younger brothers, and a set of loving Hmong parents. San Diego has a very small but well connected Hmong community. Our Hmong New Years are still held with sharing free food on a selected date, and we have no entrance fees. Let’s just say that it is so small that I have yet to meet face to face with my first Hmong lesbian or Hmong transgender. Coming from such a small community, I did not want to be the talk of the town. When I was younger  I remembered feeling that God had screwed me over. Besides blaming God, I blamed myself for years over my sexuality.

Coming out – I was around 15. The first person I told was my sister. I told her that I was bisexual (It turns out I was gayer than I expected, I identify myself currently as lesbian). After telling her I came out to my friends and finally the hardest part was my parents. Well, the thought of telling them was not the actual event. My mom thought it was a phase (later on she realized that I was super gay and did not see how she could have missed it, and my dad think it’s a choice). When I was 15 years old I was a very depress. I did not know who I was my purpose in life or if someone would ever love me in this lifetime. I met this little cute Mexican girl and we dated for 2 years before going our separate ways. She taught me important lessons, first and foremost that I could love someone. Secondly, I could be loved by someone. Lastly, the purpose of my life is to be happy and share that happiness with others. Now a days, I am going to work and school full time but I am more hopeful and willing to change for the future. I also dream about owning a nice house, have a nice job, and hopefully come home to a lovely wife. My mom has given up on “it is just a phase you’ll get over it”. My mother has since moved into “I hope you find what you’re looking for, and please stay happy it makes me happy.”

WeddingPhoto1

theguardian.com

I honestly don’t know if the Hmong community will be accepting of LGBTQIAs. I have yet to experience the wrath or love from this community. What I do know is my father is the closest thing I can connect with when it comes to Hmong Community. He is very old school and we still practice the traditional afterlife supper. A few months ago, my father has asked/informed me that he would like to see me married to a nice man, have kids, and have someone to take care of me when I’m old. The first few times he has remarkably caught me off guard. How do I tell my father that my sexual interest and desires without coming off too strong? He is the only man in my life I find lovable. I told him that I did not want to be the second wife (like all my aunties), I didn’t want to single-handedly support my “kids”, I didn’t want a deadbeat husband (like most of uncles, cousins, and brother), and that boys didn’t make me happy. I told him of my dreams: I wanted independence, an education, a home, a great job, and a woman to share it with. I cannot believe that I sold him my lesbianism with higher education. My father is all for it. He still thinks it’s a choice but is willing to accept it if I do well in life and he does not have to support me. To this day I think he thinks that by his little girl being a lesbian means he was a bad father.

Like every Hmong American lesbian with internet access – I Google “Hmong Lesbian” and came across the Hmong double lesbian suicide pact. It broke my heart to know that it was the best answers they could come up with. The girls could not overcome the “now moment” and resort to suicide. Other than that I am a part of a Hmong LGBT group on Facebook. Otherwise my association is with more with non-Hmong American LGBT groups and friends.

If I was to fully ever come out over Facebook this is what it would say. Its important because i want to be open with myself and be ready.
For those who don’t know – I guess today is as good as any day to come out as a lesbian 😀
For those who do know yeah I know it’s about time.
Questions I don’t want to hear.
How do you that you are really gay if you never dated a man, how do you know that you won’t like it, and lastly what are the chances of you marrying a guy?
To sum it up for those who won’t get it. I have a question for you! When did you first realize that you were straight and what are the chances of me seeing you marrying someone of the same sex?
I know it is hard to take it in BUT your little Jackie is a little lesbian!

My sexuality is on a need to know basis. I am open to all my friends, and my inner family. I do not flaunt my sexuality at work, because my personal life and professional life are separate. If someone would like to know anything about me, my life is an open book and all they have to do is ask the right questions (portraying to work or life of course – whichever I may classify them under).

Nepal LGBT Games

o.canada.com

If you’re compelled by Jackie’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

savingface1

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?

tumblr_mrzrcq5DXo1rq7smco1_500

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.

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