This is a revised statement for print. Read the full SOY statement here.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (March 27, 2017) — Shades Of Yellow (SOY), the Twin Cities support organization for the Hmong/API LGBTQ community for the past 14 years is closing its doors, according to a press release on Monday.
SOY said it has provided a space for Hmong/API LGBTQ community members to celebrate their identities, to develop their leadership and to help change the world. From humble beginnings in a small garage, the founding members envisioned a world in where Hmong/API LGBTQ could work, live and play without sacrificing who they are. SOY leadership said it can visibly see more Hmong/API LGBTQ community members living their full lives at work, in school and at home and are proud of the impact SOY has had in creating visibility for the Hmong/API LGBTQ community in Minnesota and around the world.
Unfortunately, due to leadership changes, funding restraints and the changing needs of our community, the members feel that the time has come for SOY to close its doors. This was a difficult decision that was made together by community members who gathered last month to discuss the future of SOY. Yet many still left hopeful of what could come next.
SOY struggled to fit into the traditional nonprofit model and system. This had a major impact on the decision to close. The members hope that SOY’s closing will start a conversation about how to better support small community organizations similar to SOY, who struggle to survive every day. The hope is that in the future a new system that is more accessible, supportive and better meets the needs of the communities that SOY and many other organizations are trying serve will emerge.
Members also believe that while SOY created a platform for new and innovative ideas, at the same time it created a vacuum for these ideas. SOY members said they often felt like the group was the only place to go to do work with the Hmong/API LGBTQ community in Minnesota. The reality is that there are many people and groups already doing this work outside of SOY. It is SOY’s hope that with its closing it might help to further demystify the idea that there is one single voice for the Hmong/API LGBTQ community and open up space for other new ideas and initiatives to flourish.
Lastly, SOY leaders said they want to recognize that historical trauma, community trauma and organizational trauma are all interconnected and had a great impact on SOY. Individuals often brought trauma into the work of SOY and it hurt throughout the organization. SOY has not always been a safe place for all and members said they recognize that as an organization it has hurt others, and that others have hurt SOY members as well. The closing brings hope that the barriers the organization may have created will be opened and lead to a deeper connection and healing.
What comes next?
SOY’s remaining funds will be divided, with half of its budget going into a “Seeding the Future” fund for local organizers, activists and individuals to convene gatherings that generate ideas to support the work of our community. The other half of our funds will go towards closing costs and a final celebration event during Pride month where SOY will recognize past leaders and announce the awardees of the Seeding the Future fund. Please stay tuned for more details about these next steps.
SOY leaders said they also hope that the public will stay connected with all the other organizations that continue to do impactful work in the LGBTQ and API communities in Minnesota.
SOY members are proud of all that they have accomplished in 14 years. The amount of positive change within the community and beyond is a testament to the dedication and hard work of its community and its leaders. Thanks to them, SOY put Hmong LGBTQ identities on the map for the broader LGBTQ movement. SOY challenged and changed hearts and minds in Hmong communities across the Unites States.
The SOY New Year is the largest annual gathering of Hmong LGBTQ people in the world. SOY has developed powerful and visible leaders and puts a lens on their work throughout the Twin Cities and around the country every day.
SOY leaders said they understand that the current state of the nation means that difficult times lie ahead. SOY’s closing does not mean the community is giving up. In fact, it means the opposite. It means that its members and leaders believe in the resiliency and the hope of this community. It means that SOY believes in creating space for new ideas, new tactics and new systems that better meet the needs of today. It means that deep down, SOY will always be in the hearts and minds of its members and supporters. SOY will continue to fuel the drive to keep fighting for a world where LGBTQ and API communities in Minnesota are more free, more whole and more loving — every single day.
We hope that you will keep fighting with us.
Shades of Yellow (SOY)