Hmong GLBT group expands horizons with talent show

Twin Cities-based Shades of Yellow is the first Hmong GLBT support group in the world.
March 11, 2010

The Twin Cities Hmong GLBT community gathered Wednesday night at Coffman Union to showcase talents in the first event of its kind.
“Txuj Ci Showcase: An Evening of Queer & Ally Hmong Talents” featured mostly Hmong performers, with talents ranging from hip-hop dancers and spoken word artists to drag queens, said Kevin Xiong, executive director of Shades of Yellow, the group that hosted the event.
Sophomore Pasia Her, a member of the Queer Student Cultural Center, which co-sponsored the event, said the event is a good way to “reach out to everyone and let everyone know what’s going on” in the Hmong GLBT community.
For some, the event may be the first time ever hearing of the Hmong GLBT community; Shades of Yellow is the first group in the world focused solely on Hmong GLBT issues, Xiong said.
Shades of Yellow started casually as a monthly meeting where Hmong GLBT can get together to discuss in a safe space GLBT issues that “affect them at home, at school, in the community, at work and what not,” Xiong said.
A common statistic estimates 10 percent of the Hmong population is GLBT, he said. Factoring in the large Twin Cities Hmong population, this means there are approximately more than 4,000 GLBT Hmong in the area.
International business sophomore Danny Hong said he hopes attendees of the event leave “knowing this campus is open to anything.”
The University’s GLBTA Programs Office was also a sponsor of the event, partly in efforts to eliminate the white race stereotype of the GLBT community, said director Anne Phibbs.
“There are people who are Hmong and GLBTA, so I think it’s really important to represent those perspectives,” she said.
Itching to expand, the group saw the talent show as a good way to kick off growth, Xiong said.
“We’ve realized … many of our Hmong GLBTQ individuals are very, very motivated,” he said. “However, because of the many layers of cultural oppressions that they face, they’re afraid to come out of the closet and show their full potential.”
The event gave GLBT Hmong the opportunity to show both their potential and enlighten the University community of the culture, Xiong said.
“I’m more excited than anything because this [event] is the first of our kind,” said one performer, Linda Her, who identified herself as a queer lesbian.
“This is me, and I can’t not think about and … hide it,” said Her, who shared a spoken word performance and a hip-hop emcee program.
Phibbs is confident there will be future collaborations between the University and SOY.

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