Hmong History and LGBTQ Lives: Immigrant Youth Perspectives on Being Queer and Hmong
Keywords:Social studies, social justice, cultural studies
This article highlights some of the cultural barriers that exist for Hmong people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ), while placing these barriers in an historical context. It uncovers differences and similarities found between the experiences of queer Hmong youth and the larger population of queer youth living in the United States. Despite the perception that a traditional Hmong culture holds no place for queer Hmong Americans, individuals are finding spaces for acceptance and slowly moving the larger Hmong community to a place of understanding and tolerance. A vital part of this movement is Shades of Yellow (SOY), an organization that supports queer Hmong. The life stories of three of its members inform this study, offering a more nuanced look at the experiences of queer Hmong living in the Midwest. Though few social studies researchers have broached this topic, the new social historians of the 1960s, who centered their research on broad social movements and the contributions of those formerly excluded from the grand historical narrative of progress, opened the door to this conversation within the field.