Shades of Yellow, the nation’s only Hmong LGBT organization, is hosting its 11th annual New Year’s celebration on March 28th. The theme, Queer Hmoob Journey, presents a queer narrative of the Hmong journey from Laos to Minnesota.

“The theme is based on the 40th anniversary of the Hmong community arriving in Minnesota,” Nick Kor, chair of Soy, told The Column.

Forty years ago, Hmong refugees settled in Minnesota after facing persecution from the communist regimes in Southeast Asia. The Hmong fought alongside the United States and the Kingdom of Laos against invading communist forces, and when the communists won, the Hmong faced genocide in the region. Many resettled in the Twin Cities.

“While you will notice that there are many events and discussions throughout the state around the history and experience of the Hmong community in the past 40 years, what you will also notice is that very few of these events and discussions touch on any part of the experience of being LGBTQ and Hmong,” Kor noted. “This year’s SOY New Year will highlight the experience, journey, and history of being queer and Hmong.”

The Queer Hmoob Journey will showcase “each individual’s journey of being both Hmong and LGBTQ,” Kor said. Through dance, music, poetry, and other art forms, members of the community with share their stories. “There will also be other interactive ways for attendees to see, touch, and participate in discovering how their own journeys intersect with and impact the broader Hmong experience,” he said.

The New Year celebration is one of the largest events in the Hmong American community. “It is a time time celebrate culture and traditions and a time to reconnect and focus on family and community,” Kor noted. But, those celebrations are often unwelcoming for LGBT people.

“For that reason, 11 years ago, SOY began our own New Year, where Hmong LGBTQ folks could celebrate the new year in a space that was supportive and affirming of their LGBTQ identities,” he said.

That first event was an informal gathering held in a small garage, but it has grown to become one of the biggest events for the LGBT and Hmong and Asian/Pacific Islander communities in the Twin Cities.

“It is the platform in which we share our year’s work of organizing and advocacy and has turned into a night of celebration, community, and movement building,” said Kor. “The SOY New Year is the one place each year where we can fully live out our organization’s vision of being celebrated and liberated for who we are.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at this year’s event can sign up through the SOY website.

The event will be held on March 28 at the DS Center, 415 N. Pascal Street, St. Paul. Doors open at 5:30pm and the program starts at 6pm with an after party following the event. Advance tickets are $12 for students and $15 for adults or $15 and $20 at the door.

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