OAKDALE, Minn. (Jan. 23, 2010) – Shades of Yellow held its 6th annual SOY New Year Celebration at the Prom Center, drawing members, family and supporters with a purpose to show that the organization and its mission are no longer a fringe element but an important and contributing part of the community.
Mica “Linda” Her was named Miss Soy 2010. She was raised in the Twin Cities but moved to San Francisco after college in 2003, and returned in 2008, saying that even though it was difficult to be a Hmong lesbian in Minnesota – it was more difficult to be away from her family and community.
Today Her enjoys working as a refugee caseworker at Hmong American Partnership in addition to her work as an artist, activist and writer on social justice issues. She said HAP is a very empowering environment and gives her the confidence to do this work as well. Her goal is to speak out for people going though the same thing.
“Outreach, outreach, outreach,” said Her.
Second Place Mister SOY 2010 Noukue Arthur Cha, a Harding High School Senior, said the pageant was a great experience and that he enjoyed meeting the other contestants and SOY members.
“This is the best experience that ever happened to me!” he said of winning second place.
Cha is president of the Harding chapter of the National Honor Society. He is also involved in theater, student government, cheerleading , and is a member of the Harding Gay Students Organization.
“This is amazing,” he added. “It is another step for me to go forward, to what I want to do, and who I am, and what I want to bring out to everybody.”
The other pageant contestants included third place winner Sunshine Yun; Hlies Vue; Ali Xiong; Luceida Gao Chia Lor; Gao Nou Thao; Kou Xiong and Choua Joel Vang. The judges included Pa Her, Malia Li, Joshua Vang, Sai Vang and Ka Nong Xiong.
The pageant included traditional wear, evening wear and final questions. Between the pageant activities there was cultural and popular entertainment. Their talents ranged from dancing and singing and spoken word, to a rousing version of Irving Berlin’s “The Stars & Stripes Forever” on the flute.
The emcees for the evening were Ming Lee and Sonic Rain. Even SOY Executive Director Kevin Xiong got the crowd going with a traditional Hmong song.
The 2009 Miss Soy Lee Xiong concluded her year with some song and dance, along with a final stage walk before crowning the 2010 winners.
Special guests included State Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-67).
Guest speakers included Pagnia Xiong and Lukas Vang, who provided a coming out story as a young man who had not fear of coming out but was traumatized by the reaction of his family. He said he was more or less ostracized for more than a year – their thinking that he would change and think it was a phase or problem he was going through.
Adie Lee, New Brighton, said she joined SOY a year ago to support her sister. She said that it doesn’t matter if your LGBTQ or not, and that when it doesn’t matter then SOY has accomplished much of its mission.
“It’s about getting to know one another,” she added, “and not just about coming out, or about socials, but about people knowing where to go if they have questions or want to talk with someone and feel safe.”
The events do bring a lot of people together, however, and it’s a growing and vibrant community. She and her sister like to volunteer together and meet others to relate their personal experiences. This is the backbone of the organization, she said.
“I have met a lot of people in SOY,” said Lee.
Soy (Shades Of Yellow), the Hmong LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) organization has an office at 379 University Avenue W. #213, St. Paul, MN 55103. Call 651-309-0037 or visit online at www.shadesofyellow.org.