Yesterday was #NationalComingOutDay and I could only admire in silence, all the stories of triumph, bravery and self-acceptance that the individuals I have been blessed to know, have lived through. An experience that I know even a 63,206 Facebook post character limit couldn't do justice to. But I realize, I never got to live my 'coming out' day.
Because for the longest time, I couldn't find a place to belong. And so I confided in the stories I'd see on the news that most hit home for me--the stories of the LGBTQ community.
Stories of doubting the worth of your whole entire existence merely because of who you love. Because of the problem everyone else who is not in your relationship, seems to have.
My 'Coming Out' story may not consist of me loving the same gender, but it still consists of a taboo great enough in the Hmong community to earn someone a seat at the table of the outcasted, as the erased child of the disowned, and as someone whose birth was wasted. It has taken me the entirety of my soul and body, to say that I have not loved the same gender, but I have very much loved the same last name.
I was once told that between me identifying as LGBTQ or being same last name taboo, I should have been the prior. Because 'at least' LGBTQ was something you were born with, but same last name was your disgraceful choice.
And although the LGBTQ history should not be undermined, there was someone like me envying from afar, for at least it was something one could hope for a bill to be passed and allowed of. But same last name? There wouldn't even be a bill for me. There was no category for people like me. Because for as long as Hmong people can recall, we've been trying to silence the existence of people like me.
It is not a decision made overnight, it is one you spend minutes, hours, days, months, and even years running away from.
It is a decision I made, one I still don't regret, and one I would make again if I were given the chance.
Because it has taught me so much; about myself, my people, my capacity for love, and my most authentic voice. Regretting it, would be regretting me. It's apart of me now.
I've spent 6 tough, but wonderful years with this person. But I remained silent through it all. And it took me losing the love of my life, to realize how I should have loved: Fearlessly.
Because if the couples throughout our history, have not been shamed for remaining in such abusive, polygamous, and heart-wrenching relationships, then why should I be shamed for not leaving my happy one?
And although the world may know that we didn't make it, if you are taboo and you are reading this, I want you to know that the reason we ended, had nothing to do with our last names. Because it had everything to do with our inability to love ourselves first, to love each other correctly, in order to not let the voices of the outside get in. If there is one advice that I could give you, I couldn't say it enough: Love Yourself. Love you endlessly. Love courageously. Love hard.
If you are already willing to throw everything you've ever known away, to pave your own path in uncertainty just to be with the person you love; if you are willing to love a community that won't love you back and to do it without letting the world turn your heart cold, then I promise you, you aren't insane. You are not selfish. You are brave, you are kind, you are enough, you are Love.
This is not me converting or advocating anything. This is me being the person the 17 year-old me desperately prayed and searched every night for. This is me owning up to my own narrative and the decision I made. Because I owe it to myself. This is me making sure that someone out there finds the ounce of last hope they need when they are at the brink of weighing the worth of their existence. This is the introductory post to my Notes from a Hmong Girl series speaking out for someone who may have needed me as much as I did.
This is My Coming Out Story.