Raising UP Su’s Short but Sweet Narrative

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rebzombie.com

Su is a 16 year old who identifies as a Lesbian residing in MN.

I was 12 when I saw my sister’s friend making out with her girlfriend. She explained that this was normal and if I accepted it as normal, I would be happier with my life not miserable. So as I grew up they took me more and more places with them to hang out with other girls like them. They all gave me kisses and eventually they made me kiss a girl on the lips! At first it felt weird, but after a while I thought, maybe I’m lesbian after all!

The only issue I’m facing right now is trying to hide this from my parents. When i’m older I’m sure I can prove I love her (my girlfriend) and that she loves me!

If you’re compelled by Su’s story, we invite you (if you identify as Hmong LGBTQQI) to contribute your narrative to our collection and documentation by taking this 5 minute survey: http://tinyurl.com/HmongLGBTQQIStories

©Linda Her and MidWest Solidarity Movement, 2011 – 2013. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution with the intent to sell, use and/or duplication of these images, audio, video, stories, blog posts, and materials on this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s authors and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links as stated by MidWest Solidarity Movement members may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Her and MidWest Solidarity Movement with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Raising UP Jay’s Lifted Narrative

GreenRanger

orendsrange.com

Story #26

Jay Her is a 26 year old Agnostic Buddhist Hmong man who identifies as Gay residing in Alaska.

It was when the first season of Power Rangers came out, so since that was 1993 I must say, I was about 6 years old and remember being completely captivated by the Red Ranger. I liked the Yellow and Pink Ranger’s hair styles and spunkiness, but something about the boy Rangers, especially the Red Ranger just sparked an interest in me. Then they introduced the Green Ranger and I think if I was allowed to plaster my way with posters and such, I totally would!

Although the feeling I remember I had was something interesting, I was too young to fully grasp sexual attraction yet. I remember the feeling of my attention being completely and utterly focused on everything the male rangers were saying and doing… “Yes, That sounds Great!” (I did not know what it even was)… “I want to try those smoothies too” (even though they were flavors I would have never thought of putting together)… “I wish they went to my school…,” “I wished I could record this so I can watch it again…,” “I think that is a great hobby to have” (knowing I’ve tried it before and was never really good at it)…” I guess it was the feeling that everything they said and did were AWESOME, lol.

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paintingsilove.com

But, that never fully translated over to school until I was in 7th grade. I knew I always had butterflies in my stomach when it came to boys at school. I hung out with them just to have their company, but I always wanted to do more of what the girls were doing… that just seemed  more fun; other boys were dirty and stuff. Girls were clean and did fun, pretty things… and actually had something to show for it when they were done, not just getting better at an activity the way boys did.

Those were the two pivotal points in my development and my realization from childhood and pre-adolescent years. The rest consists of vetting through emotions, values, religion, societal and cultural stuff, counseling, and the wonderous world of the INTERNET.

I don’t hide it [my sexuality], but I don’t flaunt it too. I tell people when the conversation is relevant, just as I don’t tell everyone my profession, religion, or favorite TV show. If it is relevant to the conversation at hand then we’ll have a dialogue about it. If it’s not, then I don’t feel the necessity to push my facts and lifestyle choices down anyone’s throat.  I came out. Not easy; still compromising with some family members, but worth the weight off my shoulders.

My coming out was the first time I questioned religion. I have since been engrossed in the lay study of religion, their origins, the changes throughout the ages, possible motives behind structures and changes, etc. I have always tried and rationalized why certain things are set forth within the religion I grew up in and even tried to rationalize how homosexuality does not fit into the bigger scheme of the universe. It wasn’t until I started looking more into religion and found out that there are other ways of viewing it when the questions started coming up… “If they could be wrong about this, what other things could they be wrong about? Has this always been the case, or did it get changed somewhere along the way because of societal pressure?”

I feel that people are supportive, but just concerned about how I fit into the structure of our Hmong Community.  It’s easy when someone says they are “something” that fits into the Cultural Structure of our community… but I don’t think we’ve created a strong enough hold or place for poly-sexuality (more than just heterosexuality) into Structure of our Hmong Culture yet.

Girl, they love it when I make dresses! LOL. They all like me and what I do. The ones who are concerned seem to just bring up some questions related to these bases:

They ask, “What are they (the community) going to think about you?” I just brush this off as an statement of concern or fear that people won’t know how I fit into the Cultural Structure.

They ask, “Who’s going to take care of you when you grow up?” I take this a legitimate concern about my own well being, because throughout many generations, the younger generations would take care of the older generations. So I understand the concern of who is going to take care of me when i get older, because in their mind there are still no alternatives.

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Many have become so dependent on their sexuality as their identity that they’ve forgotten how they can fit into the Hmong community. Through that they slowly disengage with our Hmong community, eventually, to the point where they are no longer familiar with most cultural values. Sometimes they even generalize themselves together, as if saying, it’s all part of the culture that didn’t want me anyways.

I don’t want to continue living a lie. I no longer associate with certain people anymore. I’ve connected with a whole new group of people I’ve never thought I’d be a part of, learned the art of compromising to make relationships with family work, and ultimately am happier with myself with this weight off my shoulders.

If you’re compelled by Jay’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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Cuajleeg Kennedy Yang’s Journey Forward Narrative

Disclaimer:
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I am going to take a different route in this endeavor of sharing narratives of being queer Hmong/SEA.  I never had a difficult time coming out or accepting myself as queer.  I do have troubles seeing what is to become of us, queer SEA, in our journey forward after we have come out.  Although these past stories have moved me like never before, I have had struggles that have prepared me for coming out and thus my “coming out” story has not been as inspirational.

———————

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Cuajleeg Kennedy Yang (2013)

Story #21

Before my parent’s divorce when I was around 8-9 years old, I was just happy being myself and loving the things that I did.  Although I had toy guns and action figures as a boy, I also had dolls and mermaids.  I loved what I loved and grew a fondness for mermaids.  This love for myself was reinforced and supported by my loving family who did not care that I had an affinity for “girly” toys.  I lived with this joy throughout my childhood and nothing could have been better.  Happiness was only temporary for me though, because it took the separation of my parents to force my own growth.

Initially, I was fine and accepted my parents’ divorce.  I knew intuitively that they just didn’t function the way they used to together anymore.  However, my siblings took things differently because this divorce broke them down and shook them up.  It was like a fissure that thrashed, tore, and destroyed what they once knew was home.  Some of my siblings remained physically and mentally strong, while others were still struggling; still trying to recover from a harsh events that turned into their reality.  Out of the strong and the weak, I was one of the strong and so I did all I could to aid.

Due to this unavoidable situation my mom went through many financial hardships trying to pay off bills here and there and maintaining a house. My oldest sister struggled and persevered just trying to hold the bond of our family together.  Some of my other siblings just shut down after the divorce while the others learned to cope with the situation.  The middle brother had grown up as an angry child only to have this divorce amplify those issues.  One of my other brothers and I became his outlet for anger and we were bullied daily by him. I was targeted more so than the other and my siblings saw that, but did not know how to respond other than just shrugging it off and blaming his personality.  Despite this daily struggle I helped my family with chores around the house, like washing the dishes, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and generally just tending to my mom.

I remember whenever I would go crying to my siblings or parents, because I was being bullied, they’d always tell me to be the bigger person.  This began sinking in because I then embodied it by brushing my own feelings aside, thinking that they were wrong to have.  There were moments in my life where I remembered just crying out of no where and not knowing why.  Crying out of no where and realizing that I myself was not even feeling sad.  Crying out of no where and then telling myself that I was weak for doing so. I remember looking into the mirror and training myself to learn how to not cry because I could not take being vulnerable and targeted anymore. What I did not know was that I had come to silence myself so much that I had become detached from my own feelings and emotions.

You would think that I could find solace from this over at my dad’s house, but that wasn’t the case.  I was one of the only children to visit him and sleep over on a weekly basis.  I knew that he loved me and I loved him too.  However before I would go, my mom would tell me that I was never going to be worthy of his love because of the sole fact that I was also her son.  I remember hearing from my father multiple times that my mother did not even love me and is only using me for child support money.  At such an early age, I had to learn how to interpret their messages because they were only protecting me from the harm that they had faced with each other.  This however also bred much distrust and corruption within myself, and also brought so much internalized pain and altered my idea of love.

I began seeing the flaw within all that I cared for, and in order to protect myself from the risk of any further internal mutilation, as well as of my own growing bias of those I cared for, I closed myself off and denied myself the one thing that I always wanted and knew: love. I suffocated my heart and crushed any feelings that began to flourish all because I would rather have dealt with that pain than the more overpowering torture of loving someone, only to realize that it was all a lie.  All that had laid where my heart used to be was nothing but an empty husk of hollowness that slowly pulsated, gasping for life as the void slowly crept inside and began growing within it.

Darkness was the only thing that that held my heart, free of judgment and unconditionally, I was all too eager to accept whatever embraced me in that way.  I came to love the one thing that had been there with me throughout all the tribulations.  It was the only thing that evoked me of my humanity while I already lingered so far off the edge.  It constantly reminded me of how alive I had been through the sufferings that I endured.  When I could no longer see with a clear conscious and vision, it was darkness that enabled me to feel instead.  The very sensation that I had casted away.  I flourishing in the shadows of my own isolation.

I became my own morphed beacon of hope.  My mentality evolved from corruption into my own truth of knowing, that in the end, I was always going to be alone in my own journey and that no matter how similar someone was to me they would never completely understand. There was a haunting tranquility in knowing that even though there are those who loved me, they will not always be there; and the only person to be there with me in the face of darkness will be myself. So from this, I learned how to stand on my own and thus began my transformation into who I am today.

It has been and still is such a lonely path that I continue to tread on.  Overwhelming sadness that crawls through me and makes me motionless at the most spontaneous of times.  What seems like demons whispering into my ears and twisting my mind.  Pushing people who care for me away and bringing myself solitude just so that I can feel the familiar and welcomed touch of sadness to rush through me and have me feel something if anything at all.  Realizing that moments of true happiness has escaped from me and then already being so out of tune with myself that I was never present to experience them.  The most unbearable feeling of all though are the moments where I sense a state of surrealness within myself.  The feeling radiates coldness as well as warmth through my body, but I have become so numb that it even happens; it is as if I am undergoing an outer body effect.  Purgatory would seem is the closest definition that I have to describing it.  Neither feeling good or neither feeling bad, just there as if I was nothing at all and what seems like a moment just stops and feels like an eternity.

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Cuajleeg Kennedy Yang (2013)

The only things that seemed to have grounded me into reality was different aspects of myself who made me, me.  Part of that is myself identifying as a queer hmong man.  I had previous thoughts about this in middle school when I would be called gay on a weekly schedule, but I never thought of it as an insult nor was it spoken to me as such.  It was nothing big for me though, I was not going to let folks define me anyways.  One of the only examples was that I remembered this boy who was very handsome named Jared who just had an amazing smile, amazing hair texture, and style.  Sadly he moved away when it came time to high school.  Other than that one singular attraction, I hadn’t really thought about my sexuality back then.

This did get my mind going about what I really did find attractive, in terms of man or woman.  I began thinking and coming into realization that I had a different and stronger attraction towards men.  This was not coalesced until my sophomore year in high school because I was able to better articulate and have more access to resources to learn from.  I was more equipped to look up terms and definitions to identify myself more.

I officially “came” out to my sister when I was able to define myself.  It was just a weekday and my sister was in her room.  I had gone in very quietly and just said that I needed to talk.  When I finally told her that I was gay, she consoled me and said everything would be fine.  During that time I had cried and only after I “came out”, did I realize that I had nothing to cry about because there was and is nothing wrong with being queer.  After this, I never came out again because it shouldn’t be an “obstacle” that us queers, majority of the time, dread looking forward to.  I am fine with expressing my sexuality but it is but a part that contributes to a larger picture of the whole person that I am.

When seeking out help and friends from the gay community, I was mistaken by many folks whom were interested in other things.  I was not looking for sex at all and only looking to expand my perspectives and insights as a queer Hmong man.  One thing that I do remember was that majority of the people who messaged me were old white men.  It was fine but when they were only trying to dominate me, that was when I had enough of them.  I did message out other folks with more diverse backgrounds but only things I received were silence or ignorance.  I was so done with this and so I went back into my mind.  I did this to find out and process why and how racist and sexist the gay community really is.

Having become my own support, I was able to rely on myself again when I was not receiving support from the gay community. I casted them aside because they were nothing but a mirror of the oppressive ways that I did not need or wanted to be a part of.  I once again shut myself out but I am glad that I did this time because I was then able to seek out more specialized support with other Queer Asian Folks whom were not internalizing racism and sexism.  This then has lead me to being great friends and acquaintances with wonderful people who do great work with racial, social, economic, and intersections of all injustices in our world.  (MWSM)

There are also a lot of things that I wanted to incorporate into this story and how each aspect of my life had intertwined and affected one another, but for the sake of time and my own sanity, I have chosen a few major events that have shaped me.  Other things that I wanted to incorporate were: White Supremacy, Racism, Race, Classism, Sexism, Sexism within the Gay Community, White Supremacy within the gay community, body imaging, Social Justice works, and much much more. If you all have any questions, I am a core member of MWSM so feel free to send me an email Cuajleeg@mwsmovement.com a phone number can also be provided via email.

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If you’re compelled by Kennedy’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.