Hmong GLBT group expands horizons with talent show

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

by Katherine Lymn

The Twin Cities Hmong GLBT community gathered Wednesday night at Coffman Union to showcase talents in the first event of its kind. âÄúTxuj Ci Showcase: An Evening of Queer & Ally Hmong TalentsâÄù 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 âÄúreach out to everyone and let everyone know whatâÄôs going onâÄù 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 âÄúaffect them at home, at school, in the community, at work and what not,âÄù 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 âÄúknowing this campus is open to anything.âÄù The UniversityâÄôs 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. âÄúThere are people who are Hmong and GLBTA, so I think itâÄôs really important to represent those perspectives,âÄù she said. Itching to expand, the group saw the talent show as a good way to kick off growth, Xiong said. âÄúWeâÄôve realized âĦ many of our Hmong GLBTQ individuals are very, very motivated,âÄù he said. âÄúHowever, because of the many layers of cultural oppressions that they face, theyâÄôre afraid to come out of the closet and show their full potential.âÄù The event gave GLBT Hmong the opportunity to show both their potential and enlighten the University community of the culture, Xiong said. âÄúIâÄôm more excited than anything because this [event] is the first of our kind,âÄù said one performer, Linda Her, who identified herself as a queer lesbian. âÄúThis is me, and I canâÄôt not think about and âĦ hide it,âÄù 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.