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.

What Does Marriage Equality Mean for the Hmong American Community?

Make sure to grab your Hmong Today newspaper and check out one of our collective member, activist & scholar Kong Pha’s piece on ‘What Does Marriage Equality Mean For the Hmong American Community?’ Drop us a few comments, let us know what you think Marriage Equality means for the Hmong American community and to you.

Hmong Today Newspaper: Hmong Americans & Marriage Equality

Raising UP MYY’s Family Is the Biggest Inspiration & Support to Coming OUT Narrative

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Saving Face film. Photo Credit Salon.com

Story #10

MYY is a shamanist, 21 year-old woman who identifies as bisexual from Wisconsin.

The first time I notice that I was attracted to the same-sex was when I was 12 years old. I could not understand why I was feeling that way about this new girl I just met. All I knew was that I was very attracted to her and I wanted to know if she had felt the same about me. When I confronted her with my feelings, she nicely rejected and explained to me that she did not feel the same way as me. After that happened, I tucked away how I felt about girls and started dating boys. At the time, I was confused as to why I had felt that way, but I didn’t look too much into it.

Hmong Trans* & Queers Rally at St. Paul Capitol for LGBTQ Justice & Equity

Hmong Trans* & Queers Rally at St. Paul Capitol for LGBTQ Justice & Equity – Photo Credit MWSMovement.com

I’m very close to my family, so I turned to them hoping they could help me. I did not know what to expect from them because this whole thing happened so quick. Surprisingly, they were very understanding and supportive. They told me that they will always accept me for who I am, so I should accept me for who I am as well. From there, I started dating my first ex-girlfriend. My family was such a big inspiration because they were there every step of the way while I was trying to figure myself out and come out to my other love ones. It’s been four years now that I’m out and none of my relationships has changed at all. Everything is going well for me right now.

I don’t feel as if the Hmong Community is supportive of me but I don’t blame them. This is a very touchy and new subject in our Hmong community. I think with a little courage and a lot of education, we can fix that problem. I didn’t even know that we have Hmong LGBTQ organizations out there. I recently found out about an organization from Minnesota called Shades of Yellow. The Asian organization from my university invited SOY to our speak out during Asian Heritage Month back in April, and I was so moved and inspired during their presentation. I think LGBTQ does fit in our Hmong Culture but it’s going to take a lot of time before it fully fits in. I feel that we should speak out more about it and educated those who know little about the LGBTQ community. I believe that in 10-15 years from now, LGBTQ will be accepted and become a part of our Hmong Culture.

Photo Credit MWSM

Hmong queers Vote NO on Marriage Amendment 2012 – Photo Credit MWSM

One of the issues I’m facing today is deciding on which path I want to take on for the future. I’m the next one in line to get married in my family, and I’m also the only one who is not heterosexual. My family accepts me for who I am but what I always question myself if I want to marry a man or a woman, if I want a Hmong wedding, and how do I want to start my family. Yes, I understand that you can get all those regardless of your sexuality but I see the kind of a family my siblings have and that’s what I want as well. I think the Hmong LGBTQQI community is being impacted by our old traditions.

The reason I’m only out to certain people is because people are so quick to judge. All the amazing people who truly love and care for know about my sexuality, and they’re very supportive. It’s the new people that I meet that makes me iffy about if I want to share that kind of personal information with them. They don’t know me enough to understand where I’m coming from, which I don’t blame them. Plus, I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable around me.

If you’re compel by MYY’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.

Raising UP Calyvn’s Breaking Down the Walls of Disguise Narrative

Calvyn Moua

Story #7

Calvyn Moua is a 26 year-old man living in Minnesota. He identifies himself as Gay and a Christian.

I knew that I liked the same sex ever since I could remember.  If I had to put an age to it, I would probably say about six or seven. I just felt good or extremely happy when looking at other boys or males. Some kind of chemistry just hit me right when seeing a cute boy.

My mother told me a true story of someone she knew from Laos back in the days. She knew a girl in her village who liked girls and grew up marrying one. She acted like one of the boys ever since she was born. She would go hunting and fishing, as well as cut wood. Whatever job a man did, she would do, sometimes doing it better. She married her partner for about five years and then passed away when she drowned in the river while fishing. This time period was around 1960’s.

I believe that one of the most important thing that Hmong community has done to support LGBTQQI are the leaders standing up and fighting for issues that are important to our community. For example, (former Mn Senator) Mee Moua has voiced her support of the Hmong LGBTQQI community. I believe Hmong society in general still needs a lot more information on this subject because many of the older generation still see same-sex relationships as confusing or alien. I am not sure how homosexuality fits in the Hmong culture, but it should exist and fit in any culture.

Former Mn Senator Mee Moua

The most important issue I am facing today is the misunderstanding of being gay. Many arguments about my sexuality among certain “friends” has made me very upset because I didn’t know that people can be so stubborn and naive. Again, the world, and not just the Hmong community, need more information and testimonies to show others that we are normal too.

I came out because it didn’t feel good to be hiding behind a wall that I wanted to break down. When that wall came down, it seemed like my world was so much brighter and healthier. I did not want to hide my true identity from my love ones because that hinders me from being one hundred percent (of who I am). I feel that my friends and family deserves the best from me. By coming out, I felt more comfortable around everyone. It was hard at first for my mother especially but she has come to respect and support me 100%. Nowadays, she even talks to my boyfriend who lives in Laos via skype. She is very happy for me. I love you MOM.

Calyvn Moua on top of the world now.

I just wished that I would have came out sooner, even though at that time it would have been harder, but at least I would have been happier. Nonetheless, I am out and never felt better. I would like to say I am out to everyone, but unfortunately I am not. I am proud to say I am out to all my friends and my intermediate family.

©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 Marina’s OUT, Proud & Unashamed Narrative

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Story #6

Marina Vang is 22 years old and currently residing in Minnesota. She identifies as Lesbian and she is a Shamanist.

I always felt attracted to girls ever since I was around the age of 14 years old. But I never had any affection in liking them until I was a freshman. At that time, I could remember that I felt happy liking them for who they were and that they also liked the as me. It was a feeling that made me felt good. I am out to anyone and everyone about my sexual orientation. I don’t feel ashamed of my sexual orientation and where I am in my life.

When I think of the Hmong community, I feel that it depends who the person is and how they understand LGBTQQI. Some people are against it and some are accepts it. Overall, I feel that at times the Hmong community is okay about people being LGBTQQI but for the most part, a lot of older Hmong people are still against it. But then again it all depends on who understands and who doesn’t cause day by day, people change and the world change along with culture beliefs.

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fbcoverstreet.com

Please share your story by clicking on the link below:

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.

Sign Your Name to Say Thanks to Mee Moua, Dr. Neal Thao & Senator Foung Hawj

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Good Morning from Minnesota!!

Family, Friends and Community, please take a moment to read & sign your name with us in the Thank You letters we will be delivering to Mee Moua, Dr. Neal Thao & Senator Foung Hawj. We want to acknowledge and say Thanks for their leadership and public support for Marriage Equality in Mn and LGBTQ rights. And please copy this post and share widely. Thank you!

CLICK HERE TO READ AND SIGN YOUR THANKS! 

Southeast Asian Queers Rally & March at the MN Capitol Against Monsanto!

Greetings!

Today, not only did we join over 1,000 local activists and organizers in St. Paul, Mn in the social movement to ban GMO products from our food system, but we also raised consciousness around the impact that Monsanto has had on our Southeast Asian American community. Monsanto was 1 of 6 manufactures of Agent Orange, a herbicide-chemical warfare that was ordered by the US government and used by the US military during the war in Vietnam in the early 1970’s. Agent Orange was used to kill the “enemy,” but ended up killing and leaving innocent people as survivors, whom are our Southeast Asian grandparents, parents and families. It also destroyed parts of the Southeast Asian land and countries.

When corporate like Monsanto patents “intellectual property” of seeds/food in which controls how and what farmers should grow on their own farms, and eliminates our human right to know and grow our own food… we need to Occupy Monsanto NOW! Monsanto and many corporations are, Profit Over People which causes famine, poverty, and cultural and food genocide.

Say “HELL NO” to GMO!  Let us take action to ensure that our current food and farm system is sustainable to support the lives of our future children and their grandchildren. Connect with us if you want to head to the next gathering together: linda@mwsmovement.com

Get informed and involved here —> March Against Monsanto Minnesota and Occupy Monsanto

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