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.

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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.

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

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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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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

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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 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