007: VDay

In this episode we talk about Valentine’s Day a.k.a. vagina day; first crushes; relationship thoughts: the pros and cons of marrying an orphan and how norms fuck us up; Asian Prom; and read through listener submitted song dedications.

Below is the list of links for those who want to learn more about the stuff we mentioned and talked about.

Valentine’s Day –

Asian Prom –

Song dedications:

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Illustration for this episode was made by co-host Paj Huab Hawj.



Sandy Oh: Hello. Welcome to Hoochim. Today is February 6, 2016. We are 4 Hmong women that likes to talk about things that matters, such as–

All: Everything.

SO: And we are your hosts. My name is Sandy Oh.

Linda Hawj: This is Linda.

Mim Xyooj: This is Mee.

Paj Huab Hawj: Hi, I’m Pa.

SO: And this is our special episode about Valentine’s Day.

LH: Or vagina day.

SO: Yes.

PHH: Vagina day. V day.

SO: V Day. I think I’m gonna get my pubes waxed into a V. In dedication to this podcast. I will post it on social media. My vagina. And my pubes.

LH: Can Pa take that picture though?

SO:  Yes, yes. Pa you can use it as one of your uh artwork. Because you know I’m liberal.

PHH: Sandy, you’re so–you’re so wonderful. Thanks. I’m gonna win the McArthur because of your vagina picture.

SO: Please honor me in your speech.

LH: So wonderful. Love it. So today let’s talk about our earliest memory of what we remember of our V Day, Valentine’s Day, or Vagina Day.

SO: First memory of Valentine’s Day. Well, you know in school they make you give our Valentine’s cards and candy to all your classmates. Yeah, that’s what I remember.

LH: Do you remember what type of–

MX: I remember–

LH: –Valentine’s cards you brought? Did you make them yourself?

SO: No. I bought it.

PHH: Mee, what do you remember?

MX: There was one time when I was in second grade and I remember I bought a pack of. Valentine’s day cards from the store and it was a Barbie one.

SO: Oh. Those are the best.

MX: I remember specifically it was Barbie. And I… I didn’t want to write people’s names on it because my handwriting as a second grader I thought it wasn’t really nice looking and so I had my oldest sister–I have an older sister who is about ten years older than me write people’s names on it. And she… she was looking at the list of names and just writing it on the card and I didn’t pay attention. So I handed out the cards at school and then everybody was talking about the card that I gave one of my guy classmates. And I looked at it and the card was a Barbie card saying “I love you.”

All: (laughing)

PHH: Did you–did you love him afterwards?

LH: Yeah.

MX: No. I was so embarrassed. When I got home I was yelling at my sister because she had not paid attention and had given an “I love you” card to a random classmate.

SV: (gasping)

PHH: I love it.

LH: Aw.

SV: First love. I think you were his first love.

MX: I–I may have been the first person to declare “I love you” to him besides his parents and family.

SV: (laughing)

PHH: Mee, do you have a song dedication for him?

LH: Yeah.

MX: Oh my gosh. I didn’t even think about this.

PHH: Wait. What–have you–what is his name? Maybe we can look him up on Facebook right now.

MX: I don’t remember his name.

LH: Dang, Mee. How can you leave Hmong men behind like that? Was he Hmong?

MX: He’s not Hmong. I lived–I lived on the west side of Saint Paul and there’s a large Latino population. And so a lot of the children I went to school with were Latino. And he was Latino. I don’t remember his name though.

PHH: Mee, you are the reason why Hmong men are left behind.

MX: I know. (laughing)

LH: And then when Hmong men are left behind they say that that’s why Hmong people don’t have a country. It’s a ripple effect of that.

SV: Do you guys remember your first crush and their names so we could look them up on Facebook.

PHH: I can’t talk about my first crush because he’s married to one of the four of us–is a family…

SV: Friend?

PHH: … to one of the four of us.

SV: Oh. Okay. Okay.

PHH: Yeah. But I will say this–

MX: He’s your family friend.

PHH: So, yeah. He’s my family friend but he’s one of the family…

SV: Members of one of the four of us. Okay.

PHH: Through marriage. I will say this about him though. It was at Frost Lake Elementary School and I remember I used to like… he’d given me one of those really small school pictures and I like taped it next to my wall on my bed and I would look at it every night before I went to sleep and I remember like asking god, like praying to god to like– I had like no idea what I was doing, but I just remember praying and going, please let me be with him. And then like I also one time I like watched this movie and somebody had made a reference to wishing on a shooting star. And I remember like looking out my window in my bedroom and like I would always look for a shooting star so that I could wish that I could be with him. Isn’t that weird?

SV: Wow.

LH: It’s not weird at all. I think a lot of you know us young people who grew up in America have been through that. I’ve prayed to god when I was younger. Like, oh, please, let him like me. He’s so cute. Well there’s a wishing star. I’m going to wish on a fallen star so that him and I could be together. And thinking back to it I’m just like oh my gosh. We were so brainwashed to think about how, how we view love and relationships should be. You know, like this sort of hopeless romantic, not knowing what we’re actually doing and–as we were younger. And–and even when we’re, we grow up and you know we’re older, right? My first crush was actually uhm in school when I was in Kindergarten. I used to have the most hugest crush on my teacher. Her name was Mrs Davis. I don’t think she’s on Facebook. And I think it’d be kind of creepy to look her up but I did remember that she had long golden hair, blue eyes, and red lipstick and she’d wear beautiful dresses every day to school with a vee belt. This is like in the ‘80s. And I just remember being like oh my goodness like, she’s so pretty. And like I was just so attracted but I–I didn’t know–I didn’t really know what that was, what that meant. That–that’s my earliest memory of a crush.

PHH: Hm. Sandy?

SO: Me? Mm. The earliest I remember was in elementary school in Wisconsin. So my parents moved us a lot. And like a small town Wisconsin. I remember their names. Okay, so there’s two boys that a lot of the girls had a crush on. And so I decided to crush on them because everybody else was. Their names are John Eggie and Andy Bartage. Two blond white boys.

PHH: Did you ever like the gremlin?

SO: The gremlin? I don’t–no. Okay, I don’t know… I never… I never noticed the gremlins. So… I can’t… no.

LH: What is–who is the gremlin?

SO: Uhm. (laughing) Uh, Linda, we will tell you that off air.

LH: But it’s not a V Day without the juicy tidbit.

PHH: Mee, what about you? Who was your first crush?

SO: Mm-hm.

MX: I think about when I was in Kindergarten. And there was this Latino kid in my classroom. His name was Luke. And I remember he didn’t like us saying his name for some reason. And we had our names printed on a piece of paper on our desks, right. And I remember one time I was reading his name. I thought I was reading it silently. (laughing) But I read it–I read it out loud. And he gave me this look. And I was like, oh my god.

LH: Aww, that’s so cute. Wait, how–what grade were you in?

MX: I was in Kindergarten.

PHH: Mee, what’s Luke’s last name? So I can look him up on Facebook.

MX: I–I don’t remember either. I don’t know that I even–no, because he ended up going to elementary school and I think junior high school with us but I don’t remember his last name.

LH: I remember in first grade. You know as we’re talking about like love, or the idea of love, and relationship. I remember being in first grade and there’s this boy named Tony. He was a white boy. He had dark brown hair but his head was shaved. And you know how there’s this–even in a young age, young boys, carry these very macho and very even misogynist attitudes. Because I remember coming to school, his and his friend would play this hockey game and I have no idea how it still–how the rules are. I don’t know if ya’ll remember what this game is. This was back in the really early–late ‘80s. You draw a piece of paper and it’s like a hockey game, right. You scribble stuff; I have no idea what was going on. But I remember glimpsing that. And Tony would–we sat together so he would put his arm around me. I remember this incident, he would be like, “Oh this is my girl. This is my babe.” And me, this young Hmong girl who didn’t speak English really well. I was just like, “What’s going on. What’s happening. And why’s he putting his arm around me?” Yeah, I just wanted to mention and talk about that recollection as we’re talking about like relationship, love, and you know this desire but there are other instances where I don’t actually desire these repercussions of others’ ideas and thoughts about love and relationship or how it’s invested in misogyny and sexism and controlling young girls’ and women’s bodies. And that they’re properties and attachments to men or boys, right.

PHH: I mean, do you guys think that our ideas uh about like what it–what it means to be in a relationship or what it means to be in love is mostly fueled by you know by the media and by the movies that we see and the books that we read and you know the k-dramas that we watch. Do you think that–I mean do you guys feel like that?

SO: Mm-hm.

PHH: I mean I will give you–because I think about that right. And I think about back to like when I would watch like Korean dramas and after I would watch it–after I watched the Korean dramas, I would be so invested in the Korean dramas that I would be like, oh my god, my relationship is not like this at all and it needs to be like this and like I need to make it like this. And I guess my questions is, for you guys is, do you guys feel like that and when did you start realizing that real relationships aren’t like the relationships… are never like the relationships that you see on t.v. or you read in books or you see in Korean dramas? Or are they–I guess like, do you ever stop thinking like that.

SO: Mm-hm. Uh, I guess I can start. I remember actually… so in my very first adult relationship with someone. So I remember like at times I would reenact some of the scenes that I watched from a Korean drama because I’m like, okay, it worked on t.v., let me see if it will work it real life. And I remember specifically like reenacting that particular scene at this moment that I’m having this argument with the person–the partner I was with at that time. I mean obviously it did not go the way I see it on t.v. As you’re younger you just start to get any sort of dating advice.

LH: I have two things to share. One of them is, yes, the media has shaped how I see or how I desire a relationship that I want it to be. For example, when I was still uhm trying to explore or understand my sexuality for the first time, I watched a lot of gay and lesbian films. And I would, in a lot of those films are white people, you know characters, and experiences, and directed by either straight white people or lesbian gay white people, right. And so at that time when I was not conscious of race and racism, I would–I would always imagine that my first girlfriend was white. And I didn’t specifically say “I want a white girlfriend,” but the images in my head of what a–what my girlfriend would look like would be white. And I didn’t recognize that until probably seven eight years ago when I started to be in spaces and having more conversations, being around race and racism. And yes, so the media does–has shaped how I imagine my relationships with who I want to be with and it ties into your own understanding of yourself. And then the other thing is that when I was a lot younger like teens, a lot of my ideas and expectations about relationships and finding a boyfriend were shaped by my parents. My mom mostly she would–you know, being Hmong, I’m not sure if you all experienced this but my mom and my dad they would say, find a good looking Hmong man. Make sure he’s educated. And if he’s–if he has a good family or not, we’re just afraid that if he comes from parents or family that’s bad, they’re going to treat you bad. And make sure that he is White Hmong, you know, White dialect, and that if he’s also an orphan that would be better. (laughing)

MX: Really?

SO: Yeah.

LH: You don’t have to suffer the wrath of the evil mother-in-law and like family, right.

SO: Mm-hm. I feel you on that one. My mom always says that.

PHH: My mom shied away–my mom said do not marry a guy who does not have parents.

SO: Oh really. No.

PHH: My mom has always said that to me.

SO: My mom was pro-orphan.

MX: Yeah, Pa. Pa, I–my parents didn’t say it out loud but that’s the impression I got too, like. My parents were like, don’t marry orphans.

PHH: Yeah.

LH: How come? How come?

MX: Well, well you know like my–my grandfather, so my dad’s dad was an orphan. And so they saw how hard it was and how hard it is for our family to like not really be connected to our clan. And so like my parents always ntsaw ntsaw that that love, right. And so yeah, it was always, no, stay away from orphans. (laughing)

PHH: My mom has always been like, you know, if you marry an orphan, like it’s gonna be so much, it’s gonna be so hard because you literally will have nothing. And my mom used to tell me these cautionary tales of girls who married Hmong men that didn’t have anything back in Laos and how hard their lives were because they didn’t have anything. My parents have always been like, no.

MX: I think we should also talk about like when we’re imagining relationships in western culture a relationship is between a woman and her partner or a man and his partner or whatever, right. But when we talk about Hmong relationships, Hmong marriages, it–it involves like the marriage of two clans, it’s not–yes, it is on the individual level but it’s larger than that. And I don’t think or I think there is this tension between people who grew up in the United States and their parents who still have the Hmong…

PHH: Values and traditions…

MX: Right, right. Where, where it’s like you know our families have to get along. Their families have to be strong families. Don’t marry an orphan because that means that to some level that means they’re an outcast and therefore you’re family will be an outcast. And so, it’s larger than just two people marrying each other.

PHH: And I think that that was precisely the reason why… The thinking behind my mom telling me like to not marry an orphan right, is like there’s like an importance put on marry somebody who had a clan, who has a family, so that they could help me. And that if I married somebody who had a family like life would somehow be easier as opposed to marrying somebody who had nobody. I think like our parents like when they, well my parents when they told me this they like, their reasoning behind this was this sort of like Hmong traditions. I mean, I think about like the movies, the Hmong movies that are still being made. I think it flops back and forth, right, between where you have a typical like tus ntsuag who tsis muaj niam muaj txiv and like who lives on the edge of town and is dirt poor and you know has like raggedy clothes. And uh like he’s the one that everyone in the village like, every family in the village like shies their daughter away from, right. But then like you know but then there’s also this side to like the ntsuag too right. And that like because he doesn’t have anybody he’s probably like loving person and that he’ll love you more, right. And that’s where like I think Linda maybe that’s like where your parents… Like that’s like the side that your parents are looking at the orphan guy, right. And that if you marry an orphan like he has nobody so like you’re the only one that he has and he’s obviously gonna like–you know you’re gonna be his everything. You’re gonna be his world and he’s gonna love you because he has nobody else to love.

LH: I’ve been reflecting deeper in between the lines.. Uhm, of the conversations I’ve had with my parents. And that, you know as where we grew up the majority of our life whether we’re born here. Learning the western ideologies and values and like how we behave and how we’re shaped by media and all these other things right. By religion. I think that my mom, and I think that most of Hmoob mothers went through this phase where they were not treated well being that daughter-in-law. And how they look out for us is by giving us these tips, right. They don’t out and say that don’t do this and don’t do that because then it would ultimately be against this fundamental… the only thing that they’ve known and seen like fundamental uh practice of what it means to be Hmong which is… Again, like what you had said earlier Pa, like clans marrying together and how families function. And each family play a certain role, right. Like, who’s born and especially the funeral roles, right. How people come together and gather and people play a different role. Or when marriage happens, you know, there’s a role and there’s a process to making that bridge happen. And I would like to think that my parents were in ways radical by instilling and saying, oh, you can do this and this way. You know, this is the Hmong way but at the same time like there are these other options or ways that can also help you. Back then I was like, why would I wanna marry an orphan? Or, why would I wanna marry at all? That was me back then. And talking about racism, my parents… And again, why I brought up this question, way of living and knowing, is that through academia or social justice spaces or racial justice spaces, have language to talk about the systems that oppress us. You know, in ways that in limited ways of talking but in the Hmong language, you know, we don’t have institutions or spaces that sit and think about the discourse of Hmong experience until like recently. That they were also warning me about racism. Especially when they were like, oh, don’t marry outside like the Hmong race, ‘cause… you know, especially like white people because they’re not gonna know how to love you or care for you. And whether they but the thing is that they have never had relationships or know white people but at the same time they also knew that in ways that they also racism, specifically in America, in a white country by white people and so they were like giving me things like warnings or tips. Like, hey, be careful or watch out. Or maybe they just wanna keep it in you know keep in the Hmong like in the Hmong like race or some shit like that but. But yeah, so my like my ideas and thoughts about love and relationships and values have been–inputs were given by my parents even though I didn’t take a lot of those inputs.

SO: I’m just chiming in the whole uh marrying an orphan. My mom, my aunts and grandmas were like were supportive of oh like the best person to marry would be an orphan because again like Linda like you said, it’s because of their being a daughter-in-law. And by marrying an orphan you bypass all that. All of that, you know, duties.

MX: So, so then… you’re, if you marry an orphan you’re able to have more negotiation power on how to play your role–

SO: Correct.

MX: –as a wife, et cetera?

SO: Mm-hm.

MX: So when I was young and growing up I had two older sisters who were 10 years older than me. And, so when I was a young child they were already teenagers. And you know they were first generation Hmong Americans so they were born in Laos or born in Thailand, in the refugee camps, and came here. And media, American media, American white media had a huge role in how they looked at romantic relationships, which influenced me. And so I remember like the songs they would sing, or like the movies and t.v. shows they would watch. I had a sister who loved daytime drama, you know, and I grew up watching soap operas with her. And I had a sister who also loved reading like romance novels and back then they were bodice rippers, right. And so, and so I grew up reading and loving to read romance novels. And so this really influenced me growing up looking at and thinking about romantic relationships. But I remember when I was a teenager and I was in college when I finally started looking at myself and thinking about myself and questioning my beliefs, right. And so I feel like a lot of changes happened when I was in college that I’m very grateful for. But my change happened I suppose in college. Thinking differently happened in college. And I think about, Linda, when you said you reading or watching movies about lesbians and they were white lesbians and you never questioned that. And I think about when I was in college and I started thinking about, what does it mean to be GLBT, I started reading about and watching movies about Asian lesbians and when I would talk about this to people and when I would say, yes, I’m watching a lesbian movie or like this is a lesbian movie, they automatically equated lesbianism with like lesbian sex, right. (laughing)

LH: I know.

SO: Mm-hm.

LH: My gosh.

MX: And so, and so I’m like, yes, this is a lesbian movie, it’s not that great, but if you wanna borrow it… And people would borrow it and they would bring it back and they’re like, there’s no sex in here. And I would say, of course there’s no sex in there.

SO: What the heck.

MX: It’s not an x rated movie. It’s an Asian lesbian movie.

LH: Oh my goodness. It is not a white man’s porn you know like made up lesbian scenes for his–for male pleasure. And ugh, that’s just so sickening.

MX: Yeah.

LH: Pathetic. Ugh. But you know what uhm my first girlfriend, ex-girlfriend is actually not white and I don’t know about you all but my first ex was Filipina and when I came back to Minnesota I left California a changed Hmong lesbian. And coming back home there was a community of Hmong LGBT, you know a community here. Mostly Hmong gay men. But I had thought about what would it mean and what would it be if I was actually in a relationship with another Hmong woman? But at the same time I like this internalized like racism, like thoughts and experiences, and I would be like oh my gosh, but I think that that would feel like I’m dating my own sister or something. I would also really shy away from that or feel really conflicted with that. Yet I also desire that because, because I was also struggling with the–the accusations from Hmong people who were not LGBT, who were straight, the very heterosexist Hmong people who would say, but that’s not what being Hmong is, if you’re gay or lesbian. And so I would desire like, what is the history of Hmong LGBT because it wasn’t documentation. There’s still very few documentation now. And I would desire to be in a relationship with another Hmong woman to feel and validate it. It was such as struggle. It was such a struggle to come in ways a full circle and embracing my Hmong like Hmong lesbianism or queerness. And yeah. So, damn, like race, ethnicity, and like gender roles and these antique cultural values can fuck–like these norms can really fuck us up a lot.

SO: Yeah. Absolutely. I think uh if I didn’t like try to find myself in like being in a relationship and really just being okay with how I handle certain situations and my relationship. And knowing that it’s okay to act that out and it’s okay to think that way at this age has actually led me to be more–build a better relationship with my sister. Younger sister, since I’m the oldest girl in the family. I had other cousins who are oldest girls in the family and really having this weird controlling issue with their younger ones saying, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. Well, because I’ve come to terms with things that are happening in my life, relationship wise, that you know just reassuring my sisters that it’s okay for you to do that. And it’s okay for you to feel that way. And it’s okay to express yourself. You know, and then like help them and guide them to I guess make sense of themselves. And find–help them find their own agency in their relationship. And know that it’s okay to say the things you need to say. And that you’re not a crazy girlfriend or you’re not this and that. I think just really validating their-theirself. I have come to terms in validating myself and the relationships that I’ve been in I think has really shaped my relationship with my sisters.

PHH: Yeah. I mean I think that’s so important, right? Like, I think even as an adult now I think about the relationships that I have with men and the relationship that I have with Ya. And I’m always having to say to myself like, it’s okay to put yourself before him. I don’t know. I think that sometimes when we get into these relationships like I am always having to like every few months to like check myself. To make sure that I’m not losing myself for him.

LH: Uh-huh.

PHH: It’s just saying that like it’s okay to be selfish.

SO: Mm-hm.

PHH: And that it’s okay to not–like it’s okay to want things for yourself and to not want things for him or want you know or want things for the both of us. I don’t know I think that we as women, we do a really good job of policing each other.

SO: Mm-hm.

PHH: Like I know that my mom loves to police me, right. Like every time that I’m doing something that isn’t ladylike or is not a normal thing for a Hmong girl or woman to be doing, she’s always trying to like scare me and say stuff like, aren’t you afraid that you’re not gonna be desireable. Like, always trying to say things. And I think like sometimes we always have to say that. Okay so, one of my younger sister was in a relationship with this guy and she’s like in high school right. And he’s like one of the first guy that like came over to our house every day and for longs periods of time and sat in our living room and watched t.v. and interacted with us. And then he went off into the military and she was like having a really hard time trying to keep that relationship with him right. And when I found out that they broke up I was like, I mean I literally I was like attached to this guy and I was like, why did you break up with him? He was so nice. And like, you should’ve just stayed with him. And trying to police her into like going back with him. And I had to like check myself. And I had to like, okay like if you don’t want to be with him, that’s great because you’re only like 18. And you have like the rest of your life with him. But I remember my mom going and telling my other siblings and I to say, oh my god like he was such a wonderful guy and like, you should tell your sister to take him back and like be with him. And it was just like completely dismissing like her reasons for why she wanted to break up with him. And later down, it was like, well why did you break up with him? And she was like, well because like we didn’t get along at all. We fought all the time. And I was just like, oh, fair enough. You know, but like, before that it was just like me, you know like us just trying to like police her. And telling her she should be with this guy because he was in the military and you know so like I think about that and I think like. I don’t know. That’s something that I always have to think about. I just constantly have to check myself every time I am about to give advice to my sister or to my cousins about relationships so that like to make sure that I’m not in a position where I’m like trying to police them into… or like you know trying to corner them into being with somebody that they don’t want to be with. Switching topics and going back to our topic right. V Day. What is Valentine’s Day to you guys? How do you guys feel about Valentine’s Day?

LH: It’s about love. It’s about sex. It’s about break up and then make up sex. It’s about like breaking up with your partner and then going and having relationships with other people, and having sex with people, and then coming back. I don’t know. Is it all of those? It’s about buying into the capitalist consumptions of buying Valentine’s cards and shit, chocolates and making these other people who don’t actually celebrate Valentine’s Day.

SO: If there’s a person who can do all of that, I would uhm, I would celebrate them. They should have a day. I think Valentine’s Day for me, it depends. If I’m in a relationship, it means something like, take me out to dinner, or whatever, I don’t know. Uh… But I think now since I’ve been single for a while it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t really care for it. Oh I do appreciate the sales afterwards because the chocolates are on sale.

LH: I think Valentine’s for me has changed a lot. Like you all–like most of you all. So I ask like, does Hmong people celebrate Valentine’s? And what does Valentine’s mean to us? Well, Hmong people haven’t–doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s. Maybe in a different form, back in Laos. But until in America, I believe Hmong people started celebrating Valentine’s because of schools. Like I was introduced to Valentine’s through schools and–

SO: Yup.

LH: –valentine cards and stuff like that right. Uhm, I remember-I remember in high school I had my first boyfriend and I remember walking in the snow, the winter, all the way to Walgreen’s to buy this cute little Valentine’s card that played music and some chocolates for my boyfriend. And I did that when my parents weren’t home. And so I was like, oh my dod, I gotta go get this sweet thing for him and without my parents knowing that I actually have a boyfriend. So, uhm. I gave it to him and I don’t remember if he… I think he cherished it. I remember my friend who was related to him was like, he is so head over heels in love with you. He writes your name in the snow and stuff. Et cetera. But that’s like my long time ago idea about Valentine’s. And I think that most of my Valentine’s idea and thoughts, have been shaped by, again, outside institutions or like consumerism and media. Now, this year, my partner and I, we’re not gonna do the whole dinner and all that stuff. We’re just gonna spend five hours together and I don’t know, pretty much like read a book or watch a movie or play in the snow or something. Yeah.

PHH: Yeah, I feel like.. I don’t know. I used to like, when I was younger, I used to like really appreciate Valentine’s Day and I think that was because I mean who doesn’t like receiving gifts? And flowers? And chocolate? And lingerie?

All: (laughing)

LH: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Alright. You gotta talk about this lingerie stuff though too.

SO: Is it edible?

PHH: Who doesn’t receiving… you know. Before, when I was younger, I used to be like, oh my god, Valentine’s Day, a guy buying lingerie. That’s so sexy and like, so great. But now as an adult, as somebody who’s older, I’m like man lingerie doesn’t do anything for me. If he’s buying me lingerie, he’s fucking selfish as fuck. That’s him. That is not for me. Going back to what I was trying to say, I’m very much in the same boat as you Linda where I’m just like uh Valentine’s Day is so commercialized and if you love someone–you know, also this very idealistic and maybe real way of thinking about Valentine’s Day and about the idea of love and how that is something that does not only exist like one day out of the year. And it’s something that should be practiced uh every day. I haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day for a long time now, you know. But I do like appreciate…

SO: The occasional flowers.

PHH: … the occasional flowers. The occasional lingerie. And the occasional gift that one does give their partner on Valentine’s Day. Hint, hint, hint. But I think about these presents and these things and I’m like, but you can get them anytime. I think about being an adult and like being able to like buy yourself these things. I can just buy myself these things. You know, like I can buy myself lingerie. And I can buy myself flowers and have them sent to me.

LH: But–but the things is that, the person who buys you those things, how are they informed? Like, how does someone know for Valentine’s Day I’m going to buy my significant other lingerie, right? Where do these ideas come from?

PHH: From seeing Victoria’s Secret commercial ads. You know, from like from red roses are synonymous with Valentine’s Day. And so are chocolates, right. And so is lingerie. So is jewelry, right. These are the things that we’ve like we’ve been taught to associate Valentine’s Day with. It gets ingrained in us where–when we were little. It eventually like becomes this thing. I mean it’s just like common. I mean my dad, right. My dad of all people. One year he bought my mom roses. And I’m like, here’s this guy who doesn’t know, who is illiterate when it comes to the English language but yet somehow he’s able to figure out that like you know Valentine’s Day is the day you buy…

SO: Roses.

PHH: …your wife or your lover flowers. Like I’m always really amazed when like these things happen. But I will say that I love and this is not meant in anyway to like troll people on Facebook, but I do love seeing what people’s significant other buys them on Facebook. You know, as a testament to their love for one another. I think that, I do love–I eat that shit up all the time. Like I love seeing what people get each other for like their special day.

LH: Well you know what you all… Pa, Sandy, and Mee… for Valentine’s Day I wish I could give you guys roses but I will give you this song.

[Sounder’s song “Lub Paj Rose” begins to play.]

LH: This song needs to hurry up. I’m not listening to this song.

MX: A classic.

LH: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Okay.

[Song is cut off.]

SO: Ugh. Oh my god I almost ripped my ears off.

LH: So have you all been to Asian Prom?

PHH: Mm-hmm.

SO: No.

LH: You have? All you?

SO: I’m not from Minnesota so I’ve never been to Asian Prom.

PHH: Okay can I–

LH: Pa, tell us about Asian Prom.

PHH: Okay, so I’ll tell you about my experience with Asian Prom and it’s pretty romantic. So the person that I went to Asian Prom with bought me my prom dress…

SO: Oh damn!

LH: Damn! And it’s not Valentine’s Day.

PHH: Yeah I know right? And then he also proceeded to rent us a motel room at Motel 6.

LH: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa…

SO: Classy. Wow.

LH: That’s why he bought you a prom dress.

PHH: Mm-hmm. Classy. Ugh. It was classy. But you know the one thing he didn’t do was get us a limousine.

SO: Fail.

PHH: That’s something that I still hold over his head til this day. It was at uhm… where was it? Asian Prom that I went in probably ‘98 or ‘99, it was held over by where Jimmy’s used to–where Jimmy’s is on 94 uh 35E across the street in Vadnais Heights. And it was really fun. I mean it was like here I was this like high school… I was probably like 10th or 11th grade and I was hanging out with these like 18, 19 year olds and we were dancing and then it was like great fun to like be with a bunch of like Hmong people. Asians.

LH: So it was Hmong Prom, not Asian Prom?

PHH: Yeah, it was pretty much Hmong Prom because it was a prom that was like… there was a council. The council was made up of like different leaders in the Saint Paul school district. So each high school had an Asian Club and then like one or two representatives of that Asian Club formed this other club that then had the Asian Prom. I mean Asian Club back in the days, I don’t know about now but back in the days was pretty much full of like Asian Club was pretty much Hmong Club.

LH: I have a question. Did the white students come in and say, well what about a prom for us too?

MX: Not that I remember.

PHH: Not that I remember.

MX: So I also went to Asian Prom when I was in high school and I remember my brother drove because he was going too. And our neighbor from around the block was going. And so my brother drove us and I had to… I had to leave the house when my dad wasn’t there because my dad wouldn’t let me go out. And so I had to leave the house when my dad wasn’t there so that he wouldn’t catch me. And we went to Asian Prom. And I remember it was me, my brother, my cousin and our neighbor who went in my brother’s car. So when we got there I remember that they didn’t allow same sex couples.

LH: (gasp) What do you mean?

MX: So if you were going as a single person you paid a different price than if you went as a couple. So…

LH: Goddamn.

MX: …if you went as two people as a couple your fee for getting in was lower than you as an individual. And they would not allow same sex people to go in as a couple. And I remember my cousin at the time who went with us like, that’s racist. (laughs)

LH: You mean that’s classist and homophobic?

PHH: Racist.

MX: I mean, we understood what he was saying, right. He just didn’t have the vocabulary. But they were not allowing same sex couples to go in.

SV: The funny thing is like uhm, so I’m not from Minnesota so I didn’t go to Asian Prom but in Rhode Island, so the Hmong people would throw a Valentine’s Day dance and it was held in the basement of a church. And so we would all go. And I remember this one year my dad was the emcee at the Valentine’s Day so it was a big event so everybody’s families are there and uhm yeah, they also had a pricing like that too: individual is a higher price and a couple was a lower price. And so my sister and I didn’t have a date so we came together. And my sister was like, oh well we don’t have enough money for each one of us and I’m like, don’t worry, I’ll figure out something. And then, so–

LH: And you know the DJ.

SO: Yeah. The DJ’s my dad, but, oh no, my dad wanted us to pay because it was for a fundraising. But we went there and they were like oh uhm, I’m like, we’re a couple. And then they go, oh, are you guys a couple? And I’m like yes, we’re a couple. Nothing on your thing says that it had to be a man and a woman. And they go okay fine we’ll let you go and I’m like, good thanks.

LH: But Asian Prom is no more right, ya’ll?

PHH: Uh, I don’t know. I heard that it could possibly be coming back.

LH: Oh, okay. Hopefully it’s not as classist and like homophobic.

SO: It will be. It will be.

LH: Hopefully Hmong slash Asian Prom has advanced with time.

SO: I don’t think so. I feel like if Asian Prom is gonna like come back again it’s gonna be catered to all the young Hmong professionals who can afford a lot of money to get into this thing. And so they’ll probably jack up the price. All the Hmong elitist professionals will come together to flaunt the dresses that they bought at Debs.

PHH: I mean–

SO: I mean think about CHAT’s fashion show. Dude like the bourgeoisiest of the bourge come there.

PHH: But Sandy it’s the place to be seen.

SO: You’re mostly gonna hook up with people you already know.

MX: So I have to say that when I was working at that nonprofit on the east side of Saint Paul… I was working–I was working on after school programming for teenagers and in thinking about fundraising and what we could do to fundraise for the program, one of the teenagers at the time that was a participant in the program, her older sister had been a part of a high school Asian club and who had been a part of planning for Asian Prom. So she put the idea out there that what if we brought Asian Prom back to Saint Paul, right. So her sister came in and talked about what they did when they did planning they did for Asian Prom and honestly I don’t remember. I don’t remember this conversation much more than that. And so with kind of like her sister’s blessing we brought Asian Prom back. And this was about 10 years ago… yeah, this was about 10 years ago when we started doing Asian Prom again. And it was through the organization, the nonprofit I was working at, and it was through my program that I was running so I was a part of organizing Asian Prom.

LH: Did you charge people who weren’t couples higher? Or single people higher?

MX: Yes, we did charge people who were–who came as individuals higher. And–and we…

LH: How come? Was there a reason..?

MX: I think the only reason why was because that was the fee scale that we were familiar with. And so, but were we allowed same sex couples to come in. So we were not, you know it wasn’t a throw back to my high school Asian Prom experience.

PHH: But you were racist, Mee.

MX: And we encouraged, you know it was a fundraiser. It was literally a fundraiser so we encouraged anyone to attend but our market audience was teenagers who were still in high school. So we tried to keep the fee low because you know understanding that they were teenagers. So, yeah, I just wanted to throw that out there.

LH: Did you reach your program goal budget.

MX: I also don’t believe that they’re doing Asian Prom anymore. I don’t believe so. I don’t know that there will be a future iteration of Asian Prom. There might be. I don’t know. Do you guys know?

PHH: Well, I don’t think that they are doing Asian Prom in the Saint Paul school districts or the school district but like there have been conversations on Facebook about bringing Asian Prom back. And not to high school students but like to adults such as, you know folks like us who you know do remember Asian Prom back in high school as a way to you know relive our high school days.

LH: A nostalgic Asian Prom.

PHH: Yeah. But going back Mee’s–

SO: See I was right. I was correct.

LH: So to hook up with those people we never was able to hook up back then with.

PHH: Yes. Yes. But you know like so I wanted to go back to Mee’s Asian Prom story for uh that nonprofit on the east side that she used to work for. And I remember Mee I don’t know if you remember this but I came and I helped chaperone Asian Prom.

MX: Yes. Chaperone, chaperoning is it’s own kind of story because it was affiliated with a nonprofit and a lot of the chaperones were employees of the nonprofit that just kind of wanted to come and hang out and see what the event was all about. And there were people who were very strict in that–in that they wouldn’t let–they wouldn’t let people you know kiss or make out. And I’m kind of… I don’t know, I’m kind of of the mind to be like, I don’t really care, you know. And… but I had co-workers who would stop people and say “no, this is not happening here.” So it was a little strange.

LH: Were they the, were they the no sex equal no baby but we will not educate about safer sex.

MX: I do not know for sure.

LH: So here comes the best part of the podcast today for V Day. We are doing our song dedications for our listeners. And the first song goes out to you, tus hlub from Cindy Y. The song is Tracy Chapman, Fast Cars.

SO: And then this is from Boshi to Chong. The song from Cyndi Lauper, True Colors.

MX: The next song is from Deebs to all the Hmong kids in the closet. The song is Jess Glynne, Don’t be so Hard on Yourself.

PHH: So the next song is from Julia Ann to Isabela. The song is Let it All Go by Birdy + Rhodes. And uh she has a message and the message says, I am grateful for the past seven years with you. I wish you nothing but the best. To new beginnings. So this next dedication is from Maica to one of the hosts of hoochim. The song is called Woman and it’s by the artist John Lennon. She has a message and the message reads, I was 12 years old when I fell in love with this song on the B track, spinning the cassette with a pencil to rewind. I didn’t know I was queer then and what do you do know, we are written in the stars. Aww.

LH: Aww.

PHH: I completely butchered that but…

LH: That sounds good. Okay, so… The next song is from Ying Thao to a much younger Ying Thao, when he came out in 2004. The song dedication is Bonnie Mckee, Somebody. The message is, gay marriage will finally be a constitutional right and will be allowed in 2015. It’s okay now. You can and have always been able to dream about a future and a life with another man. You don’t have to be scared to be out. And it’s okay to accept yourself being gay. It’s not so scary after all. You’re still and will be the same person.

SO: And this is to all of the co-hosts here, to their first crush. Uhm the song dedication is M2M, Pretty Boy.

MX: And the last dedication that we have is from Chong Vang to all my gays, queers, lesbians, and trans. The dedication is True Colors by Cyndi Lauper. And the message is, who had to struggle alone, thinking that they were the only Hmong person in the world that felt this way.

LH: Oh these song dedications are so sweet. Doesn’t it bring you back to like the ‘90s when lite FM was still playing dedications.

SO: Oh, I know. When the radio was relevant.

LH: Yeah. Well, I’m glad that hoochim could bring a little bit of that back to all our listeners.

PHH: Guys, I felt like this could’ve been Asian Prom.

LH: I think it is Asian Prom, which is the four of us and we don’t get to charge anybody anything.

PHH: Yeah.

SO: I hope I get to make out with one of you guys and not have no one stop us.

MX: I’ll be the chaperone.

SO: Mee, will you uh…

MX: I’ll be the chaperone.

SO: …will you stop me from making out with one of these girls?

LH: The one that says, here’s the lip condoms. Save kissing.

PHH: I will rent a room at Motel 6 for us.

MX: So, if you have any questions or comments you can email us at hashtag dot hoochim at gmail dot com. Contact us on our Facebook page, Hoochim. And tweet us at our Twitter handle, hashtag underscore hoochim.

SO: Thank you.

LH: Until next time… lub paj rose is the beautifulest rose in the world.

PHH: Muaj lub paj rose no rua koj leej muam. Thov tsis zoo, thov pab khaws.


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