Our Partners

Shades of Yellow

"Creating Awareness and Challenging Community Assumptions"

SOY is a newly emerging community organization in the Twin Cities, dedicated to supporting Hmong GLBT individuals, non-Hmong GLBT individuals, families, friends, and allies.

The founders, Phai Xiong and Xeng Lor, started the organization not only out of their own personal experience as gay Hmong men, but out of a recognition that many GLBT members of their community were feeling invisible, marginalized, and in desperate need of support. SOY has bravely taken on the role of confronting this isolation through services in education, cultural awareness, social gatherings, and advocacy.  SOY - Ms Soy 2008

As the music begins and the audience quiets down, there is a familiar atmosphere of any New Year celebration; warm smiles and welcomes, a sense of reflection, and hope for a new beginning. However, when a drag queen saunters by, complete with a sash and crown, you start to understand that this celebration is a little bit different. It is SOY's annual Hmong GLBT New Year celebration.

Needless to say, it hasn't been easy, but SOY members cite their many allies and friends in helping their cause. As partner grantees of AAPIP's National Gender & Equity Campaign in Minnesota, SOY recently went through a six-month community engagement process to determine how their stakeholders see them as a resource, and what SOY's ongoing role should be in the community as they continue their social justice work.

The organization held a series of dialogues with members and allies. As part of this work, on January 26, 2008, SOY held their 4th annual New Year celebration event and fundraiser at a large Hmong social service organization. Over 400 GLBT Hmong, allies, families and friends attended the event, which featured a GLBT beauty pageant, the sharing of coming out stories, and ally speeches.

What they are learning, through this event as well as other organized dialogues and conversations with stakeholders, is that there are serious issues that need addressing in the Hmong community, particularly around HIV/AIDS education. For SOY, this new year has ushered in not only a wish list of all of the ways that they want to address such issues, but ultimately a sustained hope for a new beginning that lasts long beyond New Year's Day.

"Being GLBT is life shaping, not life threatening." -Xeng Lor, SOY co-founder

SOY has also learned that through networking and collaborating with other social justice and cultural organizations, SOY can better outreach to and educate parents, families, and friends of GLBT issues. SOY also learned that by catering to the Hmong/Asian GLBT, SOY really DOES deserve a place in the community, and because of this and the entire CE process, SOY becoming a 501(c)(3) organization before December 31, 2008 is a definite goal!

"We are lucky because of the people before us. People like Vincent Chin died just because he was different. This is why I did this, to challenge society. It's the only way to make change." -Cha Vang, activist with SOY