Raising UP T.V.’s I Choose To Share My Sexuality With People I Trust

Going South, 2012

Story #35

T.V. is a 20 year old, identifies as a Gay Hmong American male and resides in North Carolina.

The first time I was aware that I was attracted to boys… well I don’t remember much but if I recall, it was back when I was small like in the age of nine or ten. I would always want to feel abs from a person I was close to back then and he was a teenager. I didn’t know that I like to touch or feel his abs, but I was like so small back then, so I didn’t know better. As I grew older, I started to realize that I am starting to like other Asian men. It was hard at first, but I just kept that to myself.

In coming Out to my family and most of my friends that will be a no. I have my reason to not come Out to them, for example if I do, they might or will shun me away, and not consider me as a part of them anymore. I hate the feeling of being alone and most of all, I fear that they will condemn me. I don’t believe that the Hmong community think LGBT should never exist. In a way, I could say some of them would not have a problem with it. Yet, I am facing the fear of being shun away still and sometimes fear being lonely. I do not know any Hmong male or female that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender besides myself.

I am Out to a few of my friends. I trust them to be my friends, and they love me either way. Plus they have a kind heart and make me feel welcome. They are cool with it, and I love them because they accept me.

©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 Anonymous’s I Owe This To Myself, Honesty And No More Lies

time.com

time.com


Story #34

Anonymous is a 26 year old, identifies as a Gay Hmong male and resides in Washington.

I never really understood what homosexuality was when I was growing up, but all I know was that I was always attracted to other boys, and never to girls. As far back as I can remember being attracted to the same gender was when I was 5 years old. I remember when I was about 9 years old, the movie Titanic first came out, I was attracted to one of the man in the movie. It wasn’t Leonardo DiCaprio but to one of the officers who saved Rose from the water at the end. I don’t know how to describe the feelings but I daydreamed a lot about him. I would sketch pictures of him and glue it to my wall. All I know was that I was crazy about him, a British actor.

It has been a year since I came Out. I first came Out to one of my African-American girl friend because I know she was very accepting and supports the LGBT community. One of the reasons why I came out was because I fell in love with this Korean guy. First, I never thought that I could ever fall in love with someone even though I am attracted to men. There was something about him that just sparks up every time I see him around. I get butterflies in my stomach, and he was the light into my darkness. My feelings for him were hard, and when he went back to Korea for the summer, I missed him so much. I would take long walks down the beach thinking about him wishing he could be there with me, walking down by the shore. Everything I do, I always wish that he was there. The sad thing was that he was straight. When I found out that he had a girlfriend, everything came crashing down. I was so heartbroken. and I never had these kind of feelings before. I’ve had crushes in the past but it was never to the point where I wanted to be with them. When he returned back to the states, I never thought that I could receive a hug from someone who I really like. I was happy and sad at the same time, happy by receiving a hug from the man of my dreams, and sad that he will never be a part of me.

I am only Out to my close friends, and coming Out to them was a relief. I love them to death. It was as if the weight I’ve been carrying has been lifted off my back. They love me even more for being ME. I have always hated the feeling of “Pretending to be Straight.” Now I can just be myself. I have gotten much closer to my friends now than, then. I haven’t come Out to my family yet.

I haven’t heard any past history or stories of Hmong LGBT, but I am sure that there are cases back in Laos. It seems like being LGBT isn’t accepted in the past and the individual have to marry the opposite sex just to be “normal”. I think the younger generation has a more modernized mind-set, so they’re more supportive. As for the older generations, I’m not quite sure. Some believed that homosexuality is a Western thing, that once Hmong people came to the US, they started to become gay. No race, ethnicity and country is free from Homosexuality in their culture. It’s everywhere.

gayasiatraveler.com

gayasiatraveler.com

Going to my First Pride Parade this year was such an amazing experience. The streets were so colorful, and it is so nice to see all kinds of people who are the same as you. Met lots of nice people. and had the best time in my life. When you are Out, at times, you just don’t care what people think anymore. Now I am happy the way I am. Life is Beautiful.

It was hard for me to accept myself as a gay man, but the Korean guy who I fell in love with was a part of making me realize my self-acceptance of my real human emotions and feelings. He was the first one who I can picture spending my entire life with. Just sad that he will never return the feelings back to me. He was the one who made me want to be with another man. When I was still “hiding in the closet”, I was trying to picture myself with a girl to just try to be “normal.” I always had these questions popping into my mind that if I ever dated/married a woman, “Will I be happy with her? Will she be happy with me? Will I ever be able to touch her?” etc etc.

I don’t want to live a lie anymore, and just be honest with myself.

©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 George’s No Rainbow Flags Necessary Narrative

MS2

weddingpaperie.com


Story #33

George Yang is 31 year old who identify as a Gay Hmong male, Christian, and resides in Washington.

I have not heard of any Hmong LGBTQIA Narratives. I was aware about my sexuality somewhere in my teens say, 15 years old. I am out now that I’m in my early 30s; half my life. With plans to getting married to my partner who is Puerto Rican, and starting our journey into becoming adoptive parents. Our kids will be of a different ethnicity.

Being from Pennsylvania where the Hmong community is mostly Christian with a lot of influence from the modern world, I say the Hmong Christian community has become supportive with LGBT people. Pennsylvania does have a small Hmong community so there’s a lesser chance of a bigger gay Hmong population. There’s another guy that I know of from Eastern Pennsylvania that is gay, and opened about it. But he like I, we don’t need to be waving rainbow flags around. We live our lives like the rest of the people in the world.

©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 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 Europe’s Summoning Courage Narrative

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niwdenapolis.com


Story #30

Europe Lor is a 21 year old Gay Hmong American from Wisconsin.

I think I was 11 and I was attracted to one of my classmates. I didn’t think much of it, at the time I kind of knew that being attracted to the same-sex wasn’t really well looked upon and that it was something unique and at the same time I kind of felt like it was normal for me.

The actual reason as to why I came out was because of work, but I don’t want to say that it was just mainly because of work. But it is because of the work that I was participating in that allowed me to summon the courage to open the door that I was so afraid to open. I was working with an Organization that was just starting to build awareness for Hmong-LGBTQ and I felt that if I was going to do this type of work I needed to be honest with myself and my family. So I came out to my mom and then my dad. Another reason was because, I was afraid that I was never going to get the chance to tell my parents before they passed if I waited too long and I wanted them to know the real me before any accidents or anything was going to happen, I just felt like I didn’t want to lie to them whether they accepted me or not.

The issues that I am facing today as a queer Hmong is waiting to be accepted by my parents. It would mean the world to me and make me so happy that my parents would accept for liking who I like and for who I am. It has been 3 years since I have come out and my relationships have completely changed with everyone that exists in my circle.

I feel some of the younger Hmong generation is somewhat supportive of it and the older Hmong generation still holds onto their time from way back and isn’t quite supportive. I think that LGBTQQI is still in the shadows some-what, because the queer Hmong folks aren’t really recognized in the bigger part of our community.

n-VIET-RAINBOW-large570

huffingtonpost.com

If you’re compelled by Europe’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 LV’s Bittersweet Awakening Narrative

transgender-flag

lgbtqnation.com

Story #25

LV is an 23 year old Hmong Transman who identifies as Straight residing in California.

I think I was in the 3rd grade when I realized I liked women. One of my classmates suggested we play spin the bottle to kill time at the Jump For Heart fundraiser at our school. My friend and I were the only ones playing, so as I watched the bottle spin hoping that it wouldn’t land on me, which it did, I thought to myself why I even agreed to play along.

When she leaned over to give me a kiss, I started to stiffin’ up and before you knew it. She kissed me. In my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this was “wrong” so I scooted myself away from her as fast as I could. I then ran to the water fountain and started washing off my lips.

But a few seconds after as the cold water splashed on my face from me panicking, I realized that I actually liked it. From that day forward my view of life completely changed and started to make sense.

Hmong_kids

meltingplots.com

I do feel that my family (including cousins) have acknowledged that I am transgender. Over the years, I have had a few Hmong un-related to me hear about me and lecture me about how women are supposed to do this and that. But most of that criticism I get from older Hmong men. With the older Hmong women, they joke about more than serious bash talk. But as the jokes die down, in the end they tell me i’m brave for what i’m doing.

I also notice that Hmong people are not really educated on how diverse sexuality is. Even being in America for 30+ years, there hasn’t been much done to show the Hmong elders about who we are and why we are the way we are. So though we exist, we are not acknowledged.

I was listening to the Hmong radio the other day and the host had stated his opinions on marriage equality. He said that if it were to become legal in California then it would turn this state into hell. So that’s a perspective from one Hmong elder. But my father was also in the room and reassured me that he supported gay rights because it would be wrong for same sex couples not to be able to have the benefits of heterosexual couples. I think because of how I have transitioned before his eyes and him knowing how I am still the same child he raised, his heart has warmed up to the LGBTQ community.

Me myself am not facing any issues as of yet. But hearing stories from other Hmong LGBTQ persons, it seems they are afraid to come out or transition due to losing face (reputation) of themselves or their family.

I came out as a lesbian crossdresser when I was 15 years old, though It always bugged me when people would call me a lesbian. At the age, I didn’t know what transgender was, so lesbian was the closest I could come out as.

When I turned 21, I began my female to male transition. It wasn’t easy coming out to my family as transgender was it was coming out as lesbian. I knew my traditional Hmong parents couldn’t handle anymore but I couldn’t hold back my identity any longer.

It’s been almost 2 years on T now and I have complete support from my family and friends.

media/photos

kityanpoet.com

If you’re compelled by LV’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 Chao’s Living with No Secrets Narrative

milouandolin.com

milouandolin.com

Story #24

Chao Vang is an 28 year old Hmong American and identifies as an Atheist gay male residing in California.

I believe I noticed my attraction to other boys when I was in elementary school. Boys I thought that were ‘cute’ or ‘handsome’ were the focus of my attention and my daydreaming. I wasn’t aware I was sexually attracted to people of my gender until I was in middle school. I had no desire to look at girls. There was always that yearning to kiss, holding hands, and more with some of the other boys in the class. I knew then it wasn’t ‘normal’. Boys don’t like other boys, I thought. I wasn’t even aware there was a term for this. A term I so actively use to describe myself today; Gay. However, like many other Hmong, I felt I was the only one. For a long time, I really did feel like a lone soul. Was there anyone out there that could relate to me? Was I the only Hmong homosexual? Haha, boy, I’m glad that’s not the case.

_news-coming-out-male

mglcc.org

I am OUT to everyone who asks. It’s certainly no secret now but I had my struggles. I first came out in middle school but I wasn’t completely comfortable with saying “Yes, I am gay” until I was 21. The reason I came out? Because I was sick and tired of lying about girls. I mean, really. “Oh yeah, she’s totally hot. I would totally do her.” Or “Yeah, there’s a girl I like. Her name is… Mai Xiong?”…Haha, it was all a lie. And the worst part was it was so blatantly obvious I didn’t like these girls I named or had any interest in them. I was more interested in the guys I was having these guy talks with. Then I was saying I was gay. Then denying it. Over and over. There was an intense build-up inside me where I finally just wanted to scream, “I’m gay! Get over it!” However, since accepting myself and coming out finally, I’ve lost many friends. I was never a social butterfly so losing them was devastating. And high school peers who thought I was already gay had even more of a reason to avoid me. I have since moved away from the high school and I have yet to reconnect with any old classmates.

My family, of which my siblings always sort of knew, thought it was a way I was getting attention. My siblings didn’t care too much even though I was being completely honest and serious with them. And even now, it’s not a big deal. I came out to my parents at separate times when I was 18 because they’re divorced and live in different areas. I came out to my dad first and then my mom. My mom was shocked initially and threw a fit, blaming American culture and coming to this country, but she gradually learned to live with it. What was she going to do? Kick me out? I was bringing home a huge portion of the income to support everyone in the household. It wasn’t worth it to her. As for my dad? Yeah, he’s the one that got that metal fly swat and got us every time my siblings and I were being bad. I was expecting it this time. And more. Like a kick out onto the streets. I was fresh out of high school and it was summer. I got into a fight with a friend I had a crush on and now, my dad and I were fighting and was asking what was wrong with me for always getting into fights. I don’t know why he did it but he did. He asked the question. Yep. Right in the middle of our fight, he asked, “Are you gay?” … There was no reply from me. Instead, I started to shed a tear… I tried to. But then I couldn’t hold them back. …The tears just kept falling. And falling. Well, I guess my dad got his answer. And here comes the shocking part. He said, “It’s ok.” Really, Dad? The same man that used to make us fear him by hitting his kids with a tool made for bloody insect murder is now saying it’s ok? Really? Wow. It was such a shocker.

My relationship with my parents isn’t great but at least they don’t hate me for being gay.

4hmong0101

startribune.com

Honestly, I don’t feel I am huge part of the Hmong community since I don’t have a huge circle of Hmong friends and I’m disconnected from family, but among my Hmong colleagues and few friends I do have, it is not an issue at all. In fact, if the topic happens to come up, they try to relate to me on the issue. They’ll say they have a gay relative or a gay friend. Or they’ll ask what kind of men I prefer and so on. However, the Hmongs I know are all younger than me. I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not but it seems to me the younger generations are a lot more accepting.

There was no place for it in olden Hmong society but all cultures evolve and our Hmong culture is no different. But it is something that must be taught and with time, LGBTQQI acceptance can be incorporated into our ever-changing culture.

I know there is still intolerance in the Hmong community regarding the LGBTQQI but me being as disconnected as my family as I am, I don’t have any major issues. I know the United States is still fighting its battle for gay rights and marriage in many parts of the country and we Hmong are no different. We want to be acknowledged and would like our same-sex marriages recognized in the same way a man and woman marries, if such an event would even occur in the first place, with as much of our cultural elements still in place.

If you’re compelled by Chao 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 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.