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Copyrights 2002 to  Kao-Ly Yang
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CONTENTS

D
iscussing: Contemporary Issues

Challenging: Women Issues

Reading: Research Article

Learning: History

Guessing: Proverbs & Riddles

Studying: Literature

Visiting: Photo Gallery

Admiring: Art Gallery

Listening to: Hmong Radios

Enjoying: Tales for Children

Taking: Courses of Cult & Language
               Trilingual Website           Français            English           Hmoob                                          Index/Themes          Index/Year              
TOPICS OF 2006
January

Tsab rau Tsab Mim Xyooj
Lettre ouverte à Chamee Xiong, la plus célèbre chanteuse hmong
The Open Letter to Chamee Xiong, the Most Famous Female Hmong Singer

February
Kuv tus Phauj Nyob Asmeslivkas Teb thiab "cov nkauj laug"
Ma Tante d'Amérique et les "vieilles filles"
My Aunt from America Handling the "Old girls"

Ib tug ntxhais kev hlub rau nws leej niam
Les soins d'une fille à sa mère
A Daughter's Care for her Mother

March
Qav Xav Loj li Twm
La Grenouille qui désire devenir aussi grosse qu'un boeuf
The Frog who aspired to become as big as the Ox

Cov lus, cov duab thiab cov siab tuaj koom lub rooj sab laj poj niam hmoob
Paroles, photos et sentiments à propos de la conférence sur les femmes hmong
Words, pictures and feelings at the Hmong Women Conférence, Minnesota 2005

May
Taaj kev zais siab tsis pab nws tus kheej rov ua neej
Les mensonges de Taah à propos de son divorce ne l'aident pas à trouver son intégrité
Taah's Lies about her Divorce Kept her far from her Integrity

Guest Writer: Lindy Lee-Her
Hmoob Nkes: Thaum txij neej rov nyiam txiv neej,poj niam rov nyiam poj niam
Gay et lesbians Hmong en Amérique
Hmong Gay and Lesbians

Phauj Xis raug muag ua niam peb
Ma tante Sy a été vendue comme troisième épouse
Aunt See had been sold as a third wife

June
Guest Writer: Lig Vaaj
Xub Thoj  Lub Neej Ua Yeeb Yam Kiab    
Un morceau de l'histoire du développement du cinéma hmong: Su Thao
A Piece of the Making of Hmong Films: Su Thao

Tsheej Kim, Tus neeg hu xov Tooj tsis tseg
L'homme-Chencki
The Chencki-man, the night caller

July
Tus txiv neej uas hais lus rau cov tsawb
L'homme qui parlait aux bananiers
The Man Who Talked to the Banana Trees,

August
Raug dab thawj thiab los sis siab phem xwb?
Possédé par un démon de chagrin ou simple méchanceté?
Possessed by a Lost Spirit of Grief or Simple Wickedness?

September
Guest Writer: Npoos Xyooj (Bong Xiong), Young Master of Hmong Wedding
Kab Tshoob Kev Kos: Piav Txog Tshoob Coj  
Le mariage traditionnel: le cas du mariage par fuite
Traditional Wedding: the case of marriage by elopement

November
Guest Writer: Kou Xiong

Kub Xyooj Tsev Neeg Kev Nrhiav ib Lub Teb Chaw uas Muaj Kev Yeej Pheej
La recherche d'une terre de choix par la famille de Kou Xiong
Kou Xiong's Family Search For a Land of Choices

December
Niam Nkauj Kab Yeeb
La rencontre avec la déesse miséricorde Guanying.
The Meeting with Guayin, the Goddess of Mercy.
CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
Hmong Gay : When men fall in love with men, and
Women with women 
                                                     
                                                
Original text in Hmong Language
      
      Guest writer:
Lindy Her-Lee
     
Translated by Kao-Ly Yang

Keywords: Txij neej nyiam txiv neej / Gay; Txij neej rov qab sib nyiam los sis poj niam rov qab sib nyiam / homosexuality; Kev hloov hauv Hmoob lub neej / social change; neeg yog pojniam thiab txiv neej / transsexuality


Foreword: For the past 3 years, while teaching Hmong language and culture, I have observed that the theme of gay and lesbianism interests  a lot Hmong students: they often asked questions about the topic, and even proposed semester projects as the one that Lindy has written here. I am aware that this theme is still very sensitive, capable to hurt deeply parents and children, and gives birth to debate, misundertanding and conflicts. People still question the soundness of homosexuality whether or not it is against nature. I decided to publish Lindy's work because I think it is important to think more about the taboo and the forbidden that pushes the frontiers of human behaviors and reinvente societies, gender roles. Let's keep in mind that the gay and lesbian issue has dimensions that are different in a patrilinear society where men are the holders of the tradition and identity. In fact, Hmong gays and lesbians do face a bigger challenge: they have to overcome a double rejection, e.g from their own community and the Mainstream society. It is not good to be gay or lesbian in the Hmong community because there is no alternative other than becoming a marginalized person living on the edge. This issue is a very serious issue that we all need to take time to talk about because we need to understand the homosexuality in which a small fraction of the after-1975 generation openly chooses to live. Beyond collective fear of transgression of the norms, we shall recognize that being an outspoken gay or lesbian is still an act of courage and of integrity. Kao-Ly Yang PhD Editor


I. A case of Transsexual in Laos
      "When I lived in Laos, I have seen a woman of about 40 years old who asked my parents for a night lodging. This woman wore female clothes but behaved like a man.  She claimed to know magical tricks, healing charms, other special  skills. Her name  had a female as well as a male names in.  At that time, I was 10 years old.  I never saw such a person so that I asked my mom: "
Why does she wear female clothes and speak like a man? "  No one was able to answer my question.  That night, my parents asked her why her name was composed of a male and a female names.  She finally gave the reason: when she was born, she had the "two parts", the male and the female sexes at the same time.  When she was young,  she was not really aware of her difference.  Her parents were unable to help her. There were no doctor knowledgeable about this type of issue.  Wen she became older, she knew that it was difficult to live and to find love among the Hmong people.  She then decided to flee far from her family and became homeless, depending on others' charity and generosity.  The Elders did not believe her at all.  They said: "Impossible to believe you. You are lying! Can you show us your two parts?"  This woman quietly answered: "Yes, I can.  I  can  pull up my pans if you wish!"  When she said that, no one dared speak up anymore."-H H, 2006

II. A New Emerging Issue: the Hmong Gays and Lesbians
According to the Hmong social system, the real support comes from the children and the close relatives. Filial pity insures prosperity and success.  The Hmong people strongly honor their ancestors and their animist religion.  Socio-political and religious authority belongs to men; as for women, their roles are limited to giving birth, taking care of the domestic life inside the household. When a daughter gets married, she  leaves her lineage to become a new member of another lineage where she will adopt her husband's religious pratices, names and family as her's. Hmong lifestyle and beliefs have been transmitted from one generation to another. Hmong people do not want their culture, religious practices dispear because they believe that their culture has its uniqueness, which makes the Hmong people a distinctive group.
     
America is  a prosperous country where opportunities are numerous.  Changes have been introduced in the Hmong behaviors, beliefs and lifestyle. The choice of espouses also became more complexed and questioning : there is now the emergence of a small group of  men and women who claimed to be gays or lesbians. In Hmong language,  I used the term of "Gay" spelled as  "NKES" to classify the group of gays and lesbians.  This new phenomenon could not be hidden anymore. There are Hmong gays and lesbians in the Hmong community.   Being a gay or a lesbian is still something new inside the community. Some members do not know yet how to consider the phenomenon wether it is true or false. People are curious about this issue. Questions emerged. Why do some women become lesbians, some men, gays?   How could a woman love a woman, and a man, a man?
     
How could one accept homosexuality? Whatever the community may say, we all need to talk more about it to better find ways to handle it. If one day, two men decided to get married, how could families handle that?  Should they allow them to do the traditional wedding? If yes, what to do in fact? Who is the bride, who is the groom?  The same questions might arise as for lesbians'wedding ? We cannot avoid such events even if the  Hmong community is still very conservative and traditionalist. However, does accepting marrriages of gays and lesbians generate possible spiritual conflicts? If yes, what should we do to prevent them (Hawj, 2006)?  Tjose questions are real questions. Even if a fraction of the Hmong community did convert to Christianity, the majority of the Hmong people are still very respectful, rigide toward their traditional beliefs and social practices.  In consequence, what could the Hmong gay and lesbian community do to live in harmony within all their difference?  For simple needs of everyday life for example, there are problems: who could parents address a daughter-in law if he is a man, a son-in law if she is a woman?   
   
The 11th of May 2001, there were two young girls who committed suicide in throwing themselves in the Millerton lake, near Fresno, California. They used a leather bell to tie themselves before jumping into the water. One, Panhia Xiong, was 17 old years. The other, Yee Yang,  was 21 old years. Why did they commit suicide ?  The explanation the newspaper Fresno Bee has given was that they were lovers: Panhia's mother was against the relationship because it is something totally against Hmong way of living: a woman cannot love another woman  (Fresno Bee, 2002).  
     
Such an event has shaked the whole community and made people pose questions:  the Hmong Elderly hoders of the traditions have no idea on how to handle such a new phonemenon. But, when people are capable to die for such a thing, there is urgent needs for all to take time to analyze the situations to better  understand the issue and to learn to cope with gay and lesbian issue, before worse scenarios happen. Whatever we do, it is not easy at all. I believe there must be solutions if we all are capable to unite to discuss the issue and become aware that it is a serious issue.


III. Homosexuality and  "Sciences"
     
According to research, there are two main  hypotheses. Gay and lesbian phenomenon may be du to genetics and/or socialization (Wikipedia, 2006). The current findings emphazise on these observations :
1. Gay's brains have more similar features with women's brains. 
2. Gay's fingerprints look like women's
3. Twins: if one is gay or lesbian, the other has important chance to become homosexual too ((Wikipedia, 2006)

       There are currently some professional organizations who advocate for a better understanding of homosexuality. Before, these organizations have supposed that they could change gay or lesbian sexual behaviors because it would be an illness that one could cure. But some have changed their working hypothesis:  it is not an illness anymore that they could cure (Wikipedia, 2006).
      The outcome of the Demographics Census 2000 showed there are 132 Hmong homosexual couples in the US. In California, there are more than 55 couples. In Minnesota, there are 28 declared couples.  In the states where there are less Hmong such as Alaska, Georgia, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, or Washington, we found  a few couples. (ACCEPT, 2000

In  the newspaper
Hmong Today, Xeng Lau,  a young Hmong man , may be the first to openly talk about his homosexuality.  He said he started to like men since his childhood.  He thinks that being a gay is not against the law of the Hmong culture because his parents made him who he is; he cannot change himself. Love between gay people depends upon individual's choice; it doesn't go against law of this country if both lovers have legal age. He is gay, the cause is not either somebody's fault or illness. It is more a fate that he totally accepted  (Hmong Today, 2004)


IV. Cultural/Societal Aspect on being Hmong and Gay
     
Why do people dislike homosexual people? The reason may be mostly cultural. Some people believe that homosexuals cannot give birth to perpetuate, to reproduce the community, which leads to the death of the culture and its poeple.  In the Hmong community, children are crucial for the preservation of th ethnic group in extending the network of social support.If a child is gay or lesbian, there is no possible way of bilateral and generational exchange. Parents cannot count on their children to transmit the culture. There is no hope.  This lineage will come to an end of its genes (Hawj, 2006).
     However, in Minnesota, Church and community leaders have gathered to prostest against legal weddings of homosexual people.  Such weddings will be agains the law. (Hmong Today, 2004) 


V. The Needs and the Outcomes
     Many of the gays and lesbians take stand for their sexual orientation. They want to share their struggles so that more people would become more aware of the difficulties of being a homosexual.  At the same time, a few organzations have arised to support the causes of the gay and lesbian community.  Phia Xiong,  a social worker in Minnesota, started an organization that he called SOY, Shades of Yellow where he would like to reach the general population. His long term target are to developing awareness and sensitivity in sharing gays and lesbians' experiences and struggles unknown by others, and to bridging understanding between parents and their gay and/or lesbian children for tolerance and forgiveness. There are about 35 people who have participated to the activités of the SOY. (Jackson, 2006).  
     
The 21th of January 2006, the organization SOY has innovated a Hmong New Year for the gay and lesbian people.  There were about 300 attendees wearing traditional costumes. There were  activities such as singing, picnic, and sharingl experiences. Phia Xiong believes that such an activity will decrease the gaps betwen homosexuals and heterosexuals so that one group won't feel afraid of the other group.  When people openly talk more about differences, there will less ignorance, and more possible communication from each other.
Thus, in the long term, there will be possible dialogs regarding spiritual issues such as practices of traditional weddings for gay and lesbian people, parents's tolerance, communication inside lineages.  
     
In fact, it may be possible to modify Hmong religious practices to incorporate gay and lesbian weddings. There were already changes, changes that have occured several times in the past centuries, and that are still remembered by Elderly. In the  lineage of the "Lee 7 sons", the  Elderly still talk about one of the changes during an essential rite only  reserved for the members of the lineage where there was innovation of a forbidden practive: the lineage had socially accepting and spiritually integrating a couple of son-in-law and daughter even if they were outsiders. So it is possible to make exception for other cases or situations if parents, lineages really love and care about their children. There won't be any offense to the spirits of the lineages if all accept the new practices.


VI. Conclusion
Whoever you are, whatever you believe,  all men and women are human beings. Gay and lesbian people also wish for love, lasting relationhips, legal recognition for them to live together.  I think we shall understand that love is the core of this issue. We shall change Hmong wedding practices so that gay and lesbian people will be able to find a place because culture, law are made my people, so people could make a way for all to walk in.  We shall learn from each other to improve our understanding and our communication so that there won't be any fragmentation, social division of our community in closed mind groups that fight again each other, and weaken the growth of the group. All our dreams turn to the same hope: we all are human beings, and only hope for love. 


                                        
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Bibliographic References
1.H, H, Personal interview, asthiv 7, lub 4 hlis ntuj 2006,
2.Homosexuality and Medical Science.Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_medical_science
3.Jackson, Tom. Nearly Invisible. Gay Asians with HIV. Gay News Blog. Sau rau hnub 21, lub 1 hli, xyoo 2006.
http://www.gaynewsblog.typepad.com/gay_news_blog/2006/01/21/
4.Lawj, Xeeb. Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender Hmong People. Hmong Today. Sau rau hnub 11, lub 3 hli, xyoo 2004.
http://www.hmongtoday.com/displaynews.asp?ID=1542
5.Lost in America:Embracing the Forbidden. Fresno Bee. Sau rau hnub 11, lub 8 hli, xyoo 2002.
http://www.fresnobee.com/special/hmong/pnxiong/
6.Mouachuepao, Kathy. GLBT Hmong Coming Out Party. Hmong Today. Sau rau hnub 3, lub 2 hli, xyoo 2006.
http://www.hmongtoday.com/displaynews.asp?ID=2144
7.Mouachuepao, Kathy. Religious Leaders Rally Against Gay Marriage. Hmong Today. Sau rau hnub 20, lub 5 hli, xyoo 2004.
http://www.hmongtoday.com/displaynews.asp?ID=1617
8.Tucker, Denis. ACCEPT. Accepting Cultural Change Through Education, Prevention, and Trust.
www.acceptgayhmong.org
9.Vang, Keng. Welcome to My World, GayHmong!
http://www.geocities.com/gayhmong/


The essay  was written for the "Hmong Advanced course 101" at California State University of Fresno, May 2, 2006


Copyrights 2006 Lindy Her-Lee
All rights reserved