Raising UP AV’s Not Alone Hmong Bisexual Narrative

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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.

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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 MT’s Living in the Light Narrative

The Pink Choice

invisiblephotographer.asia

Story #20

MT is a 15 year old gay Hmong male living in Minnesota.

I started to like the same sex when I was around 7 or 8 years old because I wasn’t attracted to women and I couldn’t have feelings for them. I saw boys as more “cute.”

I came out because I wanted to be free to be who I am and to stand up for myself. I wanted to fight for my own freedom and stay true to my real identity. I think it’s been around 3 years now since I came out. It’s true that relationships I had with some people have changed because those people have called me names. Now, those names have become a joke and we all just laugh about it and go along with it. I mean, people feel more comfortable to be around me now since I am a straight up person about myself and show them the true self of me, I guess people are okay with it the fact I am gay.

I think the younger generation of the 21st century is more accepting than the older generation of Hmong people. I honestly have told people straight up and asked them questions about me being who I am and some of the answers from them are pretty okay-ish. One reply that I have heard the most when I asked them was, “I am cool with gay people but as long as they don’t do gay s*** to me then I’m cool with it.” This response was mostly from boys and it made me feel more comfortable being around them to express myself and be myself.

I have not heard any Hmong LGBTQ stories but I have three friends two are gay and one is bisexual. 🙂

Being who I am as a gay man, the issues I’m facing is trying to be this Hmong guy who is himself with his own freedom. Also, I’m trying to live in the light and not in the darkness of a community that is not educated enough about this reality and its social life that exists today in society

If you’re compelled by MT’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 John’s Painful Past to a Brighter Future Narrative

lockers

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.

glsen.orgrespectny

glsen.org/respectny

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

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?

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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 Xyooj Xub’s Struggle for Love and Acceptance Narrative

xyoojxub

Story#16

Xyooj Xub is an 18 year old, Hmong American and identifies as a Gay/Queer male residing in Minnesota.

Ever since I could remember (I’m guessing the earliest age being 4, and self-identifying as a boy for the most part of my life) I’ve always felt a romantic pull to other boys and men. I found boys and men attractive and often wished I could’ve expressed that; however, even at that age, I recognized that it was dangerous to say such things. I quickly learned from one incident in which I told my cousins and siblings I thought one boy was cute, that ridicule would soon follow.

I came out to select individuals when I was 16 and 17 because I felt I was hiding a part of who I am, and that didn’t feel good. I came out to my friends, sister, and twin brother and I found that they were okay with who I am. However, for various reasons that aren’t exclusive to sexuality, I’ve dropped or drawn back from many of my relationships with these people. My immediate family, a select few of cousins, and most friends, are aware of my sexuality. The thing I’ve realized is that I don’t need to constantly assert what my sexuality is to everyone. It’s simply who I am and it’s my business, no one else’s to be concerned with. Other reasons why I choose to only reveal my sexuality to certain people are my concerns of safety, comfort, and fear of discrimination.

I don’t speak openly with my family about my life. I deal with depression that partially stems from my dysphoria about my sexuality, thoughts on gender, disconnection from my Hmong culture, and more. I don’t have much support from Hmong folks in general, and I find that on top of dealing with a variety of forms of oppression (racism, heterosexism, classism, etc.) from mainstream America, I must also do so within my own community. It puts that much more strain on my mind. Somedays, it becomes too much and I break a bit.

From personal tales of others, I’ve heard of queer Hmong youth being thrown out of their homes, disowned by their families, rejected by peers, or were told not to reveal their sexual identity to others in the family and community. In the worst case scenario, death occurs. The most prominent story I can recall was reading about the young lesbian couple, Pa Nhia Xiong (17 y/o) and Yee Yang (21 y/o), who committed suicide together in their despair of knowing their love would not be accepted by their families or community. A link to their story can be found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/asianamericanartistry/message/763.

I don’t feel supported in general by the Hmong community. There aren’t even words in our language to describe our existence and I know well enough to say that I and other queer Hmong folks of this time can’t have been the first to have felt these ways. I feel I’m on the margins of margins with the identities that I identify with. I feel that, with not many resources or guidance available, many queer Hmong folks here in the U.S. get swept into the mainstream LGBTQ scenes, which itself has so many issues (white-focused, racist, misogynist, transmisogynist, classist, fat-shaming, body-shaming, etc.). I had to figure a lot of things out for myself and put forth a lot of effort to find resources that would help me better understand what healthy acceptance/love of myself and others meant. I wish this struggle didn’t have to exist for so many folks already struggling and I wish there were more available resources to prepare queer Hmong folks for a number of things in life.

If you’re compel by Xyooj Xub’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 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 Pao’s OUT of Hiding Narrative

40% Homeless Youth are LGBTQ & the number 1 Reason is family rejection. - Photo Credit: http://queerability.tumblr.com/post/47796790712/40-of-homeless-youth-are-lgbt-the-1-cause-of

40% Homeless Youth are LGBTQ & #1 Reason is family rejection. – Photo Credit: http://fenwayfocus.org/2012/10/spiritday2012/

Story #11

Pao is a 17 year-old, Atheist, Gay man from Minnesota. (Pao is not the real name of the person of this story)

I first noticed that I was attracted to the same sex at the age of 5. I was very young, but I knew what I felt. Growing up, my sister would always dress me up, and I actually liked it. I wouldn’t say it was her fault that she made me gay, I chose to be gay. To me, it felt so right liking a guy. I believe I should have every right to feel what I want to feel without someone judging me. Overall, I feel happy because it is who I am.

Asian Amer Drag Queen Photo Credit: Leland Bobbé from http://www.walltowatch.com/view/8556/Drag+Queens+Before+and+After

Asian Amer Drag Queen Photo Credit: Leland Bobbé from http://www.walltowatch.com/view/8556/Drag+Queens+Before+and+After

Sadly, I’m not out yet. The main reason is that I brought up the conversation to my mom. She never asked if I was gay, but she always told me stories of other gay people. My mom told me these stories so that I wouldn’t turn out like them. But I am gay, which she doesn’t know about. It’s that fear that I have, even though I don’t mind telling her. I asked her if she would kick me out of the house if I were to be gay, and she stated that she definitely would. I am waiting for the right moment when I can tell my family and friends that I am gay, so I can stop hiding who I truly am.

I have never heard of any Hmong LGBTQ, nor have I heard any stories of Hmong LGBTQ and how their parents treated them when they came out. I only know of my own experiences. I think parents have specific views and goals that they want us to achieve for them. One example is getting married and having grandchildren. It’s weird to see a gay guy marry another guy to their eyes. Some parents are accepting and some others are just too traditional. They fear that we might lose our Hmong tradition.

I believe an issue I am facing right now is having to live up to a standard that society holds us to. The issue is having to tell my family that I am gay, and opening up to others. There is no problem with me at the moment, but when the time comes I will handle the issue and deal with what needs to be dealt with. Most of all, I think we fear being gay. There’s no shame in being gay, but we just don’t want to be looked down upon. We still have the fear that is always at the back of our minds. That is why I am only out to certain people. Those people are my good friends. They understand me and they love me for who I am. It is comforting and wonderful to know that my close friends are not ashamed of me for being gay.

GLBTQ Atheist - Photo Credit: http://www.thinkatheist.com/group/glbtqatheists

GLBTQ Atheist – Photo Credit: http://www.thinkatheist.com/group/glbtqatheists

Hmong Atheist - Photo Credit: http://www.hmongatheist.com/

Hmong Atheist – Photo Credit: http://www.hmongatheist.com/

If you’re compel by Pao’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.