Gladys Malibiran @AAPIPNGEC
Educational Technology & New Media Manager genderandequity.org | aapip.org
Posted in AAPI LGBTQ on February 25, 2011
“Creating Hmong LGBTQ Space Everywhere” By Alice Y. Hom
Shades of Yellow (SOY), a Hmong lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer organization located in the Twin Cities, Minnesota has been creating safer spaces and a community for Hmong LGBTQ people to meet others to share and learn more about integrating their ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in affirming and supportive ways. They also have developed ally relationships to build understanding and acceptance for Hmong LGBTQ members within their Hmong and LGBTQ communities of which they are a part.
As the Director of AAPIP’s Queer Justice Fund, I met with SOY staff, board, and a few members on February 7th to lead a facilitated discussion about the history of LGBTQ AAPI community organizing, my own development as a Queer AAPI activist, and their thoughts about the future direction for SOY as they contemplate new leadership and strategies to build the organization and their members.
A former board member, Fue Khang shared, “This conversation was definitely something we needed. We have not yet had an individual come in to work one-on-one with our Board and/or Staff, so this meeting re-energized me. For a while I was feeling the affects of burnout and a bit hopeless, but having this meeting to talk over our concerns and visions gave me a new perspective for SOY.”
A group of 11 met over a tasty dinner at a Cambodian restaurant where we made a Queer AAPI space in a semi-private back room where we spoke freely, laughed loudly, and at times, turned serious on topics such as coming out, family and community acceptance, discrimination, social change, and how best for SOY to play a role in changing social and community conditions by addressing racism, homophobia, and sexism in ways that make sense culturally from the different perspectives of SOY members and leaders. “[This] meeting helped reinforce my thoughts and helped me redefined what social change is and can be,” said Doua Xiong.
People shared their challenges of being Hmong and queer, how they navigate the sometimes different worlds of their LGBTQ community and their Hmong community, and how they encounter a variety of reactions when coming out to friends and family members. Huey Lee remarked, “I had the best and most productive night ever with SOY and Alice Hom. I never thought just talking with people [would] be this great and that I would learn so much. I really enjoyed talking about the concept of space and that as Hmong Queer, we have the opportunity to create Queer space where ever we go!”
The final topic of the evening centered on SOY’s current leadership transition and the short-term and future direction of the organization. Everyone chimed in with their different perspectives and opinions based on their connection, history, and roles with SOY. The next steps include creating more opportunities to have larger gatherings to continue the dialogue and to bring interested people together who want to do the work of maintaining and sustaining SOY because it is a valuable resource for the Hmong LGBTQ community and to ally communities.
Chong Moua, a SOY staff member, summed it up, “It was good to know that SOY is not the only organization that goes through challenges, change, and transitions. Discussing our specific concerns and having the opportunity to share our ideas and thoughts connected everyone, board, staff, and constituents, on a deeper level. Having this understanding regrounded everyone back to the same starting point. I am reassured, hopeful, and excited for all the opportunities ahead!”
Please come and support one of SOY’s signature events, SOY New Year celebration, this Saturday, February 26th.
Buasavanh Banquet Hall
7324 Lakeland Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428.
Doors Open at 3 pm
Open-Mic and After Party at 9 pm
For more information, please see http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/157121
Congratulations to our friends at the South Asian Network on your 20th Anniversary!
The Journey to Justice Continues…
Come celebrate with South Asian Network on October 23rd and continue the journey with us to justice! Join us with invited speaker Kiran Ahuja, a performance by Shyamala Moorty, and special presentations journeying through SAN’s past years and the years to come.
Event info > http://san20thanniversary.eventbrite.com/?ref=ecount
Earlier this year, NGEC’s 12 OFP cohort organizations convened in New Orleans and met community leaders from VAYLA-NO, Father Vien from Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, and S. Leo Chiang (the director of A Village Called Versailles).
Check out the great post below via 8Asians.com about Monday’s AAPI Heritage Month celebration at the White House which featured Father Vien.
This past Monday, President Obama hosted a reception at the White House celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Amongst the honored guests was Father Vien of the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church in New Orleans, who was profiled in an excellent documentary which I saw earlier this year at a film festival called A Village Called Versailles. The film, which is part of PBS’s Independent Lens series, will be airing this Tuesday, May 25th on PBS and follows the Vietnamese American community awakening politically in the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina. Now, Father Vien and others are fighting another crisis in New Orleans. The BP oil spill has hugely impacted the Southeast Asian/Vietnamese American fishermen who make up 35-45% of the fishing industry along the Gulf Coast.
Read more about our OFP Convening in New Orleans.
(Sharing some reflections from our recent convening – written by Megan Powers, NGEC’s Capacity Building Manager in Minnesota.)
A question bubbled up among many during NGEC’s recent OFP cohort convening in New Orleans: How can a group help to create and harness a community’s identity?
After viewing “A Village Called Versailles”, visiting with New Orleans residents and organizers, and much discussion, cohort participants noted that part of the success of the neighborhood’s organizing work can be attributed to a strong sense of community identity.