AAPI LGBTQ Pride: To Be Me

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Growing up in a Hmong family with 3 other brothers and 1 sister was a real struggle to get by as my parents and close family members expected so much of me to succeed just like my uncle. I was born the second son in our family of 7, including my parents. Here is my story… Ever since I could remember, my family had always praised me to be the brightest, and a person who would always listen to their parents. With this in mind, I couldn’t bear to disappoint them by telling them that I like boys. I, along with close family members and friends, had always knew that I was different.

Having only one sister in the family, my mother had always spoiled her since she was the only daughter. My mother was always buying her pretty dresses, jewelry, makeup products, and all the accessories little girls loved. Of course, you can pretty much guess how jealousy had just taken a hold on me. So, I questioned myself about why I felt this way. I hated myself and I wanted to cry because being a boy, I can’t have girly things.

 

During second grade, I knew I had feelings for other boys in my class. I wanted to only hangout with them, to be put in the same group as them, and wanted to spend my entire day with them. This was all I could ever think about. Sadly, I didn’t understand my feelings at the time and I kept thinking to myself if this sensation of infatuation, only  a phase. I thought I was living a normal life. As I got older, I understood the term gay and that was when I started to label myself as gay. Although, I was still unhappy with the term gay because it didn’t suit me well. I hid myself in the dark corner of my mind and even persuaded myself that I was not gay. Afraid to be known as feminine, I would exclude myself from society and my classmates throughout my entire grade school education. Every friend I made, knew or assumed that I was gay due to my feminine voice, while at that time, I never knew that I wanted to become a woman.

When I was 20 years old, I was introduced to the term transgender and increased my vocabulary to define myself. The moment I heard the word, I immediately searched and googled the term many times. The feelings I received from knowing transgender was so overwhelming and I couldn’t wait any longer, because that was the day my life as a boy ended. From there on out, I considered myself as a woman and I have been living as a woman since that day.


Kimora Cha is 26 years old and identify as a Hmong transgender woman from Sacramento, California.

 

 

 

 


Celebrate June PRIDE Month by contributing your narrative to be part of AAPI LGBTQ PRIDE 
Narrative Series. If you identify as AAPI LGBTQ and want to contribute your narrative or have questions, please email Linda for more information – linda@mwsmovement.com


 

 

 

 

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Raising UP JH’s Belief Of Losing Face Disempowers Ourselves And Family Members Narrative

theguardian.com

Story #36

JH is a 23 year old, identifies as a Straight Hmong American male and resides in California.

At the age of 10 years old, I notice that I only liked girls. I would not say that I am attracted to the  ‘same sex’ because I feel more like a male stuck inside a female body. Thus, it is right for a guy to like a girl. I also felt confused because how society view a “normal” relationship is a guy and a girl yet not a girl/girl or boy/ boy relationship.

I don’t know how to tell my parents, friends, and relatives. I’m scare that they will hate me forever if I do come Out. I don’t know where to begin, and I have no support. I don’t think there is any Hmong Community support for myself or other LGBTQQI people, because Hmong culture value the fear of “losing face.” They are embarrassed of having any LGBTQQI children, but it’s their fear of not knowing or maybe because they don’t want to feel blamed.

©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 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.

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 Wilson’s Revive and Thrive Narrative

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ph.news.yahoo.com

Story #31

Wilson is a 17 year old Gay Hmong American from California.

I was about 13 years old when I started acknowledging that there was a possibility that I liked men. I always hid it from everyone because in this community (Asian or not) the word gay is used in such bad connotation it made me feel like something was wrong with me. Of course, this made me super scared to say anything to anyone, but I kind of put the worries aside and just day dreamed all through the next couple of years.

Well, there certainly are phases. The very first phase I remember was the phase of denial. I felt fuzzy around handsome men, but I always told myself that I just respected them a lot, or that they were just an icon for me to follow. Then I acknowledged my sexuality and hated myself. Depression struck me for about 3-4 years and it even got so bad that I tried to kill myself. Now, I’m completely okay and open about my sexuality. I mean, people are always going to judge and make fun of it, but eventually, you’d just laugh along side with them because it doesn’t matter. None of the sexuality stuff really even matters because I personally rarely bother to think if the person sitting next to me is gay or straight. In fact, that is the least of my worries. It’s not as big of a deal as it was back in the 1970’s, not saying it’s not a problem still, just saying, don’t be afraid to say something to someone. Start with one person and then build up. You’d be surprised at how many people will support you. And sometimes even if they don’t support your sexuality, they are still friends with you. I happen to have two friends who say gay marriage is wrong, but they completely accept me with all of my “mistakes” and stuff.

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theinspirationroom.com

One of the biggest reasons I came out was because I felt like I was morally cheating myself from the love that everyone else was experiencing. I came out because I loved myself, and because I knew there was nothing wrong with me. I loved myself enough to stand up to it, and I’m glad I did. The relationships haven’t changed too much. If anything, it get’s funnier with the girls, but with the boys, they might distance themselves, but just give them time. They’ll get over it, or they’ll ask you if you like them.

I’m out to everyone except my dad because he is really religious. He probably would kick me out or something because he is the type of guy who doesn’t take crap from anything. Maybe when I’m old enough to support myself properly I’ll tell him, or maybe one day I’ll just come home with a boyfriend. I’m not sure how it’ll go down, but it’s all alright with me.

Hmong-Necklaces

ethnicjewelsmagazine.com

I think the social aspect of the Hmong people on this topic is a big problem. I’ve never seen a bashing, but I know at times there is a problem with homophobia and isolation. Another is general approval of the parents.

I have heard of a Hmong LGBTQ person from my cousin and one of my acquaintances, but there wasn’t too much information given to me other than them telling me it’s going to be weird at first, but it’ll get better.

I think it would be awesome if Hmong people were more supportive. I believe that a lot of Hmong people would like to believe they’d support it, but when it gets down to it, they would be very hesitant, and I don’t blame them. We are a fairly new race to this whole “being on the spotlight” thing in America and other events, and I think it’s going to take a while before anything supportive comes from the Hmong community. As to the LGBTQQI’s existence in the Hmong culture, I’m sure that a lot of people we know are gay or questioning, but the fear is just keeping them locked up.

If you’re compelled by Wilson’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

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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.

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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.

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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.