Raising UP Emily’s What’s After Acceptance Narrative

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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.

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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 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.

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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 Kevin’s Liberated Narrative

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voanews.com

Story #28

Kevin Thao is an 18 year old Hmong American and identifies as an Atheist gay male residing in Minnesota.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember how old, I always noticed this aesthetic feeling towards a male teacher. It’s hard to explain what I was feeling then, but I liked this teacher a lot, especially the way he looked at me. He made me feel, “Giddy” with excitement. So this made me want to go and talk with him.

I am out to only certain people because I still feel uncomfortable letting people know that I am gay. It’s because when I was a kid, I was bossed around, I was hated, and I was bullied. Growing up, I learned how to be independent so I don’t go out and meet people. Regardless, I had friends because of school, but I wouldn’t go hang out with them. Just growing up to be independent, I didn’t tell other people about what I was feeling or about of my life.

I came out roughly about 2 years ago because I was feeling lonely. At first, my parents said they didn’t mind then they changed their mind. They told me that there is no such thing as being gay as a “Hmong” person. Although they ignore me and do horrible things to me, I’ll just have to prove to them that I can be that better person.

Right now, I couldn’t care less about what I do outside in society, since I know who I am and that’s who I will be. I don’t mind telling people that I am gay, but I don’t go around telling them that I am gay. If people ask, I just give them a straight up answer. Being independent wasn’t helping me to what the real world was about. Out in the real world, you’re going to need to communicate, converse, and talking to other people whether it’s about business or just in general.

I definitely feel the Hmong Community is supportive of me. Although, I don’t hang out with many people, when I do, they already make me feel safe and comfortable of where I am and who I am.

I think that everything is fine. I believe that it should be always spread around communities because I want people to realize that a man and women isn’t just the only thing that exist in this world.

If you’re compelled by Kevin’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

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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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minnestory.tumblr.com

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 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.

Raising UP Xyooj Xub’s Struggle for Love and Acceptance Narrative

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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.